The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has continued its crackdown on potentially misleading claims from NBN providers, issuing Singapore-based challenger telco MyRepublic with a $25,200 fine.
The fine is over alleged false or misleading representations about the provider’s NBN services after online advertisements running from December 2017 to April 2018 claimed users could get nbn™100 Speed Tier” and “nbn™50 Speed Tier” via MyRepublic’s NBN plans.
Despite the business providing fine-print disclaimers on its website that actual speeds could be lower due to various reasons, and were dependent on the connection technology available to the user’s premise, the ACCC said these were not sufficient and fined the business.
“We were concerned that MyRepublic’s use of the NBN speed tiers misled consumers to believe they would get broadband speeds of, or close to, 100Mbps and 50Mbps during all or almost all of the time, when that wasn’t the case,” ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said in a statement.
“NBN speed tiers indicate the maximum performance of a broadband service but a number of factors, including congestion during busy periods, affects the actual speeds consumers will experience.”
“We’ve been very clear with broadband providers about this and reference to the NBN speed tiers alone is not sufficient.”
Last year, the ACCC put big-name telcos such as Telstra, Optus and TPG on notice regarding their advertised NBN speeds, saying it would take some of them to court over their allegedly inaccurate advertising.
As a result of this, a slew of telcos had to either pay fines or compensate customers for their inaccurate claims around NBN line speed, including iiNet, Dodo and iPrimus.
Still “broad” confusion over the NBN
“Broadly, there’s still confusion over the fundamentals of how the NBN works and what the options are,” says Angus Kidman, tech expert for comparisons site finder.com.au.
“The perception is that people are aware it exists, they’re aware it’s faster, they’re aware it’s costing a lot of money, and they’re aware it’s a bit unpredictable.”
Kidman also believes the discussion around the NBN and its potential has largely been very consumer-focused, with many businesses potentially unaware that business-specific plans exist.
Also, Kidman says the advertising from NBN providers has largely been aimed at consumers, with speeds for ‘peak hours’ corresponding to hours later in the day while individuals are at home “watching Netflix”, rather than speeds for the middle of the day which would be more applicable for businesses.
Businesses looking for business-grade connections on NBN might be left wanting says Kidman, depending on the quality of connection rolled out to the premise they want to connect. He says fibre-to-the-premises will be business-level, but fibre-to-the-curb and satellite services are “debatable”.
“Overall, there has been an improvement in NBN speeds, and it’s now more affordable to buy into higher-tier speeds thanks to the wholesale changes. There’s also been an improvement in some levels of congestion thanks to the changes to CVC charges,” he says.
“So there genuinely has been an improvement in speed overall, but that’s because of them changing the way the network was sold, not the way it was built.”
Kidman advises SMEs who feel like they might be getting lower speeds than they should to first read their contracts and find out what speeds they were promised, then to run a number of ‘speed tests’ at different times of the day to establish what speeds they’re actually getting.
“If you then feel like it’s not satisfactory, you then have the data, and you should be able to organise a refund or at least get some support,” he says.
SmartCompany contacted MyRepublic but did not receive a response prior to publication.
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