ACCC Sues Dodo and iPrimus Over Misleading Internet Speeds

ACCC Sues Dodo and iPrimus Over Misleading Internet Speeds
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Internet service providers Dodo and iPrimus have misled customers over their peak evening internet speeds, according to the ACCC.

The ACCC, Australia’s consumer watchdog, has started court proceedings that will allege the internet providers, both owned by Vocus Group, had made “false or misleading claims” about their NBN broadband speed offerings between March 2018 and April 2019, specifically during peak times.

“We believe many of Dodo and iPrimus’ NBN customers would have been unable to regularly receive the advertised speeds during the busy evening period of between 7pm–11pm,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC will argue that Dodo and iPrimus used a fundamentally flawed testing methodology, developed by Vocus, which was not a reasonable basis for their advertising claims about certain typical evening speeds.

“It is alleged that the testing methodology determined the ‘typical evening speed’ claims by using only the daily 75 fastest speeds observed across Vocus’ entire network in the busy period, excluding slower speeds where a connection was more likely to be impacted by congestion.”

The ACCC pointed out since February 2019 both providers had consistently ranked at the lower end of its speed scale. Those reports benchmark Dodo and iPrimus, which are measured as a group provider, against seven other NBN providers, including Telstra, Optus and Aussie Broadband.

The latest ACCC report from February 2020 showed the two providers reached promised speeds between 7pm and 11pm around 80 per cent of the time. This is a 3.6 per cent increase since the previous quarter’s report. It still ranked the lowest of the providers, with the next lowest being MyRepublic — which also made questionable speed claims on its site earlier this year.

In early 2019, Dodo claimed it offered typical evening speeds of 47Mbps — the highest of any of the major providers at the time. Despite that, the ACCC’s report in the following month showed it again ranked the lowest out of providers in achieving maximum plan speeds just 81.8 per cent of the time, during busy hours.

“Consumers need reliable broadband speed information in order to decide which provider to get an NBN service from,” Sims said.

“How broadband speeds hold up during busy evening periods is a critical issue for many consumers, and all service providers must have a reasonable basis for the broadband speed claims that they make.”

Gizmodo Australia contacted Vocus for comments regarding the allegations, who responded it was disappointed with the ACCC’s decision.

“We’re disappointed that the ACCC has decided to issue proceedings related to activities that occurred between March 2018 and April 2019,” a Vocus spokesperson said to Gizmodo Australia in a statement.

“Dodo and iPrimus have been engaged in discussions with the ACCC over an extended period and have cooperated fully throughout the entire investigation. We are reviewing the ACCC’s claims and will not be providing further comment as the matter is before the courts.”

The ACCC has said it’s seeking declarations, penalties and costs from the federal court proceedings against the providers.