Could The NBN Actually Be Getting Better?

nbn thick fibre cable
Image: iStock

In October 2017, the ACCC put out a draft report into the Australian communications sector – and it had some serious recommendations for the NBN.

Now that the final report is out – let’s take a look at what’s changed.

Optus, Telstra, TPG, iiNet, Internode, Dodo, iPrimus and Commander were instructed by the courts not to mislead customers about the maximum speeds they can achieve on NBN FTTN/B plans.

Dodo, Primus And M2 Commander Sold Customers Unattainable NBN Speeds, Too

Dodo Services, Primus, and M2 Commander join Telstra, Optus, TPG, iiNet and Internode in the "oops, actually your NBN connection is trash" club today. </p> <p>Customers of the telcos couldn't receive the internet speeds they paid for, because their NBN connection was incapable of delivering it, according to the ACCC.

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“Companies have started implementing our broadband speed claims guidance to ensure consumers have comparable information about typical busy period speeds,” the ACCC says. “Since then, service providers have improved the speed information available to consumers.”

The ACCC pointed to the first report on measuring broadband speeds released just week, which shows that NBN plan speeds in busy hours are typically not much below speeds outside of peak times – with some exceptions.

ACCC Reports: FTTN NBN Can't Hit Maximum Broadband Speeds

The rollout of the NBN has been "interesting". While early adopters of the originally planned FttH service have been happy with fast speeds, others who have been on the receiving end of the multi-technology mix have been subject to poor speeds, loss of services and poor technical support. This prompted the ACCC to take a more direct approach, launching a broadband speed testing program. The first results from that testing are in, and they suggest the recent legal actions and public comments are making a difference to broadband performance.

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The ACCC also started an inquiry into NBN’s wholesale service standards – examining whether the service levels currently in place are appropriate and effective. In December 2017, the Government announced new protections to ensure customers get the level of service they expect from their retail service provider as they transition to the NBN.

“The communications sector is undergoing a period of rapid change. Since the draft report, there has been encouraging progress on key issues identified in the report like NBN speeds, pricing and work towards improved service standards, at least in part because of the actions we have already taken,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

Sims says competition will increase further as Vodafone expands its NBN footprint and TPG deploys its wireless network, bringing additional choice to consumers in terms of quality and pricing of telecommunications services.

“It is important, however, that progress on NBN speeds, pricing, and service standards issues is sustained.”

“In particular, and given the improvements to NBN consumer experience as a result of its recent promotional pricing, the ACCC looks forward to NBN Co putting in place longer term arrangements for its pricing directed at encouraging the efficient use of its network.”