The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released a new guideline for NBN fixed wireless customers facing broadband speed problems, and has updated its advice for retailers on advertising broadband speed claims.
Customers on fixed wireless networks, for the most part residing in regional and rural areas, are still dealing with broadband congestion during the busy evening period, the ACCC said. “Many fixed wireless broadband customers are not getting speeds anywhere near the maximum advertised in their plan.”
“This can be due to factors including distance from the nearest tower, line of sight issues or congestion on individual cells. NBN Co has committed to provide broadband providers with information about congested cells and is working to reduce congestion for fixed wireless customers,” the regulator said.
The ACCC’s guidance gives advice on how consumers can seek compensation or other remedies from their provider if they receive poor speeds, how they can get more information about their service, and explains the nature and limitations of fixed wireless services.
It also provides customer tips on how to get the most out of their broadband service while the fixed wireless network is being upgraded.
“We’re publishing this guidance to help fixed wireless consumers be more confident in seeking redress from their service provider if their speeds are lower than represented,” added ACCC Chair Rod Sims.
Fixed wireless broadband is used by about 280,000 consumers in regional and remote areas. In March 2019, about 3 per cent of cells on fixed wireless towers were congested, according to NBN figures. However, according to the ACCC the proportion of services affected by congestion is higher than this figure as there are numerous services connected to each cell.
“Consumers in rural and remote areas, like those in any other parts of Australia, should not be paying for speeds that they are not getting,” Sims said.
The ACCC has also extended its industry guidance on speed claims in advertising to include fixed wireless broadband. This guidance sets out the ACCC’s expectations for how broadband providers should advertise NBN speeds to consumers.
“Providers have a responsibility to deliver a service that meets the speed and performance that they advertise,” Sims said. “If services fall short of what has been advertised, broadband providers must offer remedies, technical support and information to customers.”
“The ACCC will continue to address consumer issues in the provision of broadband services, including misleading speed and performance claims made by providers.”
The ACCC said it had recently consulted on measures to further boost transparency and improve outcomes for consumers of fixed wireless services as part of its NBN wholesale service standards inquiry.