ARN

ACMA goes to market for NBN modem performance tester

Expects test to be carried out by January 2019

The Australian Communications and Media Authority is seeking a supplier to undertake performance testing of VDSL2 modems and routers used in the supply of fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) and fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) NBN services.

ACMA published on 8 August an approach to market (ATM), explaining that the performance of different modems can affect the overall consumer experience when connecting to the NBN, potentially leading to lower broadband speeds.

The successful supplier will be required to undertake performance testing of a range of modems and modem/routers, representative of the modems supplied to consumers via Retail Service Providers (RSPs), as well as independently through consumer electronics retailers.

In December, ACMA announced it would impose a new set of rules on NBN retail service providers (RSPs) in a bid to improve the consumer experience in moving to the NBN.

"An analysis of industry information found that the majority of complaints related to service quality and connection issues," stated the ATM documents.

With the tests, ACMA wants to determine modem and routers as to DSL and Wi-Fi performance, as there is often "confusion" when determining the causes of performing broadband and voice services.

"This can lead users to attribute performance issues to their retail service provider or the network infrastructure deployed by NBN Co," tender documents stated.

ACMA said that one possible cause of poor service performance is the VDSL2 modem or modem/router that a customer uses to connect to the NBN - VDSL2 modems are supplied by retail services providers or sourced directly by consumers.

The performance of Wi-Fi routers has also been identified as a potential contributor to poor service performance.

Specifically, this may be due to several factors, including equipment design, configuration and placement of devices. Most but not all VDSL2 modems also incorporate a Wi-Fi router.

ACMA has a $300,000 budget for the testing project and it expects have a first meeting with the selected supplier in early October and have received a final report by 31 January 2019.

In June, ACMA announced the date for the Service Quality and Continuity rule which took effect on 1 July.

A few days later it was announced that the Service Continuity Standard, a new set of telecommunications industry rules, has been set to take effect on 1 September 2018.

This is the second of three sets of National Broadband Network (NBN) migration rules to be imposed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which were first revealed on 21 December 2017.