The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants to test the speed of the National Broadband Network (NBN) using volunteers in 4,000 households across the nation.
The consumer watchdog is developing a program that will reveal typical broadband speeds and performance at various times during the day, after the Turnbull government announced funding for the plan earlier this year.
Initially, the ACCC wants to install hardware-based devices in 2,000 volunteer households over the next 12 months, rising to 4,000 households over four years. The device will use remote testing to check typical speeds on fixed-line NBN services, which will help the ACCC decide if poor performance speeds are due to the NBN itself or ISP companies not buying sufficient capacity.
The consumer watchdog is currently investigating examples of where ISPs may have misled consumers in relation over broadband speeds and other aspects of consumer guarantees.
Complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about internet data speeds increased 48% in 2015-16, making the issue the biggest cause of consumer complaints in that period.
ACCC acting chair Delia Rickard said Australians spend more than $4 billion annually on fixed broadband services.
“Currently many consumers are left angry, frustrated, and dissatisfied by services that don’t deliver the peak speeds that are promised,” she said.
“The volunteers will be helping to produce accurate, transparent, and comparable information about the quality and reliability of the fixed-line broadband services available in their area.
“We aim to be able to identify when consumers are not getting the service they are paying for, and help when shopping around for a new deal.”
If you’re interested in signing up for the ACCC’s broadband performance and monitoring program, the details are here. Applications are open until the end of July.