The Australian competition watchdog is on the hunt for volunteers to help put internet service providers (ISPs) under the spotlight in its new broadband monitoring program.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on 16 June that it is looking for thousands of Australians to become a part of the new program, aimed at measuring and comparing broadband speeds across the country.
The program is aimed at delivering transparent consumer information about typical broadband speeds and performance at various times throughout the day.
The ACCC wants to use the information generated by the monitoring program, in part, to help determine if broadband speed issues are being caused by the performance of the National Broadband Network (NBN), or by ISPs not buying sufficient capacity.
“The ACCC is currently investigating examples of where ISPs may have misled consumers in relation to their broadband speeds and other issues related to consumer guarantees that may raise concerns under the Australian Consumer Law,” ACCC acting chair, Delia Rickard, said.
“We believe it is crucial that consumers have access to information about the speed and quality of the broadband services they are paying for, especially as thousands of new NBN plans hit the market. We aim to be able to identify when consumers are not getting the service they are paying for, and help when shopping around for a new deal,” she said.
According to Rickard, the volunteers that sign up to the program will be helping to produce accurate, transparent, and comparable information about the quality and reliability of the fixed-line broadband services available in their area.
It is hoped this will lead to more competition and better value for money for broadband services.
“Speed information is a key ingredient for consumers, and consumers are entitled to expect accurate information about services they buy,” Rickard said.
The competition watchdog said it would finally go ahead with its plan to monitor the country’s broadband speeds earlier this year, following an injection of funding by the Federal Government.
According to the regulator, the program is expected to cost around $7 million to deliver over four years.
In May, the ACCC released the details of the monitoring program, as it called for potential suppliers to pitch their services.
According to tender documents, the winning testing provider will need to be able to source and distribute hardware testing devices, recruit and manage the volunteer testing pool and conduct testing, with an intensive testing period of at least 15 consecutive days per quarter.