Sunday, 22 September 2019 Sydney
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New guide for fixed wireless broadband customers::

The ACCC has today published advice for NBN fixed wireless customers experiencing broadband speed problems, and has updated its guidance for retailers about how to advertise broadband speed claims.

Customers on fixed wireless networks, many living in regional and rural areas, are still facing broadband congestion during the busy evening period, and 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 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 offers 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,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

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 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,” Mr 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,” Mr 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 has 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. The ACCC is currently considering responses to this consultation.

The consumer guidance is available at Using NBN Fixed Wireless. The industry guidance is available at Broadband Speed Claims.

Background

Each fixed wireless tower has one or more ‘cells’ containing the equipment that transmits signals to a dish or antenna at a customer’s home or other premise, allowing them to connect to the internet.

NBN Co has set a target to reduce the proportion of congested cells to less than 1 per cent by September 2019. NBN Co has stated that 3 per cent of cells are currently congested, however as multiple services use each cell, the proportion of services affected by congestion is higher than this 3 per cent figure.

In August 2­017, the ACCC published broadband speed claims guidance for providers on how to advertise speeds for fixed-line broadband services.

In November 2018, the ACCC published its Report on effectiveness of broadband speed claims guidanceand consultation on further enhancement. This report assessed the effectiveness of the guidance and suggested extending it to cover fixed wireless services.    

In September 2018, the ACCC accepted a court enforceable undertaking from NBN Co to improve its reporting to providers to better support consumers in congested fixed wireless cells and to provide information about the level of congestion each month on its customer experience dashboard