ACCC to release NBN broadband speed reports to combat misleading ads

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ACCC to release NBN broadband speed reports to combat misleading ads

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has revealed that it will be releasing its first Measuring Broadband Australia report soon, in its efforts to curb misleading advertisements on NBN speeds.

The announcement was made by ACCC chairman Rod Sims in a Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) event on 20 February, which also discussed energy affordability and regulating financial services.

This comes after Telstra, Optus and TPG were ordered to compensate customers on NBN services that are unable to reach the internet speeds they were advertised as capable of.

“Consumer issues in the provision of broadband services, including addressing misleading speed claims and statements made during the transition to the NBN, have become one of the ACCC’s most prominent issues in the past two years and highlights the importance of both our consumer and competition focus,” Sims said.

“The first report of the ACCC’s Measuring Broadband Australia program will be released shortly, and our commitment to truth in advertising related to broadband speeds is making it easier for Australians to choose a service provider. You have seen a number of ACCC enforcement actions in 2017 and can expect further interventions this year.”

The regulator in November said Telstra was to compensate 42,000 customers, while Optus and TPG followed suit the next month, compensating 8700 and 8000 customers, respectively.

Optus was also sued by ACCC in December for misleading 20,000 customers over the need to quickly jump from its existing HFC network to the NBN between October 2015 and March 2017.

“This is a hugely important pro-competition and pro-consumer innovation,” Sims said. “At the heart of the proposals is giving consumers access to data that is held about them by business, including the ability to direct that such data be copied and provided to a third party.”

Sims also discussed the penalties under consumer and competition law, where the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) saw penalty rises from $1.1 million for companies to the greater of $10 million, three times the value of the benefit received, or where the benefit cannot be calculated, 10 percent of annual turnover in the preceding 12 months.

“Currently, the maximum penalties for breaches of the ACL are, for corporations, approximately one-tenth of the lowest maximum penalty for breaches of the Competition Law,” Sims said.

“There is no good reason for this difference as we have seen cases where consumer law breaches have led to very substantial harm to many consumers.”

In October, the Federal Court ruled in favour of the ACCC and ordered Online PC reseller MSY Technology to pay $750,000 in penalties for misrepresenting consumers’ rights on remedies for faulty products.

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