The Australian competition watchdog is set to throw open its proposed broadband monitoring program to tender in a deal that could be worth millions.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) published a notice of its intention to commence an open tender to appoint an independent testing provider for the program on 22 May.
While the tender details are expected to be available later this month, the ACCC said it is planning to publish an approach to market with the intent of procuring an independent third party provider to measure and report on the broadband performance of various broadband services, technologies, speed plans and geographical areas.
The move comes just over six weeks after the Commission revealed it would appoint an external provider to undertake the program, which was slated to commence in May.
According to the regulator, the program is expected to cost around $7 million to deliver over four years.
The competition watchdog revealed on 7 April it would finally push play on its plan to monitor the country’s broadband speeds following an injection of funding by the Federal Government.
The move came almost two years after the regulator completed a pilot broadband performance monitoring and reporting program, publishing a report on the trial in 2015.
The aim of the broadband performance monitoring program is to provide Australian consumers with accurate and independent information about broadband speeds around the country – a major focus of the competition watchdog this year.
“This program will see the ACCC test and report on the typical speed and performance of broadband plans provided over the NBN [National Broadband Network]," ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, said in April.
"This information will assist consumers in comparing and shopping around, and checking that they receive what they are paying for.
"The program will also allow the ACCC to determine if issues are being caused by the performance of the NBN, or by internet service providers (ISPs) not buying sufficient capacity. It will also provide ISPs with independent performance information from which to draw when making speed claims,” he said.
According to Sims, the expected improved transparency of broadband speeds will help consumers to exercise choice as next generation services are rolled out, including on the NBN.
The ACCC began setting its sights firmly on local telecommunications and internet service providers earlier this year over broadband speed claims by Australian network retail service providers (RSPs).
Sims also flagged earlier this year that the program will allow the ACCC to determine if speed issues are being caused by the performance of the NBN, a network carrier itself, or by ISPs not buying sufficient capacity.
The monitoring program will use hardware-based devices to perform remote testing of around an anticipated 4,000 households to determine typical speeds on NBN services at various points throughout the day, including busy periods.
The testing provider will be expected to provide accurate and reliable data on broadband performance to the ACCC for the ACCC’s analytical and reporting purposes, over the duration of the four-year program.
It is expected that the tender documents will be available from AusTender in late May 2017.