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Testing broadband speeds

Those fed up with slow broadband are being invited to have their National Broadband Network (NBN) connections monitored, with applications to take part in a speed test program now open until the end of July.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) decided to roll out its speed test program after receiving repeated complaints from customers about internet providers that lied about how fast fixed line NBN services would be.

Complaints received by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman jumped by 117 percent in the second half of 2016.

In June, the ACCC said it would take NBN providers to court over slow broadband and it was investigating a number of internet providers over customers being dudded with slow broadband speeds.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims told a Senate estimates hearing the watchdog was looking into claims of NBN customers paying for speeds of 100 megabits per second but only being able to connect at less than 50Mbps.

This week, a Commonwealth Parliamentary inquiry into the rollout of the NBN heard how Western Australia’s economy was being compromised through the lack of fast, reliable internet connections the service was supposed to deliver.

The Joint Standing Committee heard how many WA households and businesses were experiencing delays in being connected to the NBN, and had unreliable service delivery and slower speeds than expected at a higher cost. 

The committee heard a key source of frustration was the lack of publicly available information about the rollout, which made it difficult for individuals, businesses and Government agencies to plan for access to the service.

The committee also heard that the inferior NBN technologies being rolled out across much of WA was not suitable for the state’s current and future digital needs, with communities in regional and remote areas particularly affected.

Acting Innovation Minister Simone McGurk said if Australia was to compete on the world stage, access to fast, reliable and affordable internet was needed.

“Unfortunately, many Western Australians have internet access slower than that of some developing nations,” she said.

“The remote areas in our state are being particularly affected by the slow rollout of the NBN and the inferior but more expensive satellite technology being deployed.”

Ms McGurk said high performing, affordable internet in these areas would drive economic development and help address social disadvantage.

The Australian consumer watchdog is now calling on 16,000 Australian households to help determine if consumers are being misled by the National Broadband Network (NBN) when it comes to its broadband speeds.

Volunteers will be given devices to attach to modems or routers, to monitor the speeds of downloads, uploads and streaming.

The ACCC said what consumers searched on the internet would not be logged during the investigation and broadband delivered by mobile, wireless or satellite would not be monitored.

The ACCC will publish the results of its monitoring program to give consumers the chance to compare what each company is actually delivering, and it expects to release the first information from its study at the end of this year.

An ACCC spokesman said the monitoring scheme would end the “blame game” over whether unsatisfactory speeds were due to deficiencies in NBN Co’s network or if it was because retail providers did not give customers enough capacity.

Currently many households are fitted with fibre to the premise or fibre to the node and suburbs earmarked for the start of NBN construction in 2017, included Beechboro, Bellevue, Boya, Caversham , Darlington, Gooseberry Hill and  Greenmount.

Guildford, Hazelm

About Rashelle Predovnik

Rashelle has been the senior journalist at Echo News since June 2011. She was a finalist in the WA Media Awards in 2015 and 2013. In 2014 Rashelle took out the whole print category in the Deborah Kirwan Media Awards for a series of stories she wrote that has positively influenced community attitudes towards seniors. In 2013, Rashelle was a finalist in the Consumer Protection Media Awards. Before joining Echo News, Rashelle worked at WA Business News, Media Monitors, she was a freelance journalist and taught journalism units at Murdoch University.

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