The ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission) has published a document that expounds very clearly laid-out guidelines for Australian ISPs about how they should advertise and implement their NBN services. Ignoring these guidelines can have legal consequences.
However, in the absence of a paid monitoring service, the reality of whether or not your provider does indeed abide by them is supposedly left to the end-user’s personal assessment.
Here is a list of elementary, almost effortless steps you can and should take to ensure your own internet service quality as a customer of your chosen ISP and to improve the overall reliability of the NBN architecture in general.
- Run Different Speed Tests
This ABC article discusses this first step in detail, but the idea is simple:
Your ISP is probably providing you with an internet speed test for you to verify that the real speed of your connection is the speed they advertise. However, in some cases that has been shown not to be the case despite such reassurance.
Since the speed test provided by your ISP only tests a segment of the actual internet connection (that between the ISP and you), it’s highly advisable, as the ABC article linked above suggests, to run third-party tests also.
Try running the third party tests at different hours and on different days, or whenever you feel that your connection may be abnormally slow.
If the results of the test consistently match the internet plan you’re paying for, the verification process ends here. However, you are still encouraged to apply step 4.
If they don’t, you should move to the next step.
- Inform Your ISP About The Problem And Ask Them To Fix It
The logical thing to do would be to call or email your ISP and let them know.
If the problem is accidental, or if it’s easy to fix, or if it’s unknown to them and you’re the first to raise it, they might fix it.
Should they not fix it, move to the next step.
Even if the ISP have successfully fixed your problem at this point, it’s a good idea to move to step 4.
- Inform The ACCC
Your speed problem may be caused by the ISPs physical network or by an AVC-to-CVC oversubscription on their part. In either case, if they are not willing to admit to it, they are probably breaking the ACCC’s guidelines and it’s best to let commercial law do its job.
After informing the ACCC, if the problem persists (which it probably will), you have two options: either you move to a different ISP or you stick with the current one for a while longer for the sake of service improvement. Most people will choose the former, and it’s probably best to do so.
Either way, move to step 4.
- Volunteer For The Monitoring Broadband Performance Program
This is the official, user-based monitoring program launched by the ACCC to improve the reliability of NBN resellers.
You can read about it and apply for it here.
Once you apply, you will simply go about your everyday internet business just like before – but with an (otherwise non-intrusive) device called the Whitebox. The Whitebox performs tests on your internet speed and sends the info to SamKnows, the ACCC’s testing provider.
In this way, volunteering end-users can become the regulating entity that the NBN desperately needs.
As we have already shown above, even the most reputable of NBN retailers can prove dishonest and require intervention by the ACCC.
At the end of the day, what matters is your satisfaction as a paying customer – and, in the long run, your effortless contribution to the network’s reliability.
While there are several reliable NBN providers out there, who do deliver what they advertise, it’s always a good idea, even in their case, to do your part in mapping the nationwide quality of internet services.
The ACCC’s monitoring program serves not only to fix problems, but also to create a public record of which providers are reliable and which aren’t. The logic of transparency dictates that this should force them all to move to the whitelist.