Australian operator Optus has become the second NBN service provider to agree to compensate customers who were sold broadband speed plans their network infrastructure was incapable of providing.
Optus has committed to Australian competition regulator ACCC to offer remedies to more than 8,700 NBN customers who were misled about the maximum speeds they could achieve on NBN plans, the regulator announced.
The undertaking was made after an ACCC investigation found that nearly half (48%, or 5,430) of Optus FTTN customers on a 100Mbps/40Mbps upload plan had infrastructure that could not achieve these speeds, and 21% could not even achieve the next highest speed tier of 50Mbps/20Mbps.
In addition 26% of Optus FTTN customers on a 50Mbps/20Mbps plan and even 3% of customers on the 25Mbps/5Mbps plan could not receive these speeds.
Optus has agreed to offer remedies including refunds, moving speed plans, discounted speed plans, and exit from contracts without paying a fee. The operator will also proactively measure the speed of new FTTN plans sold and offer remedies if the connections are found to fall below the speeds offered.
Incumbent operator Telstra last month made similar commitments to compensate around 42,000 customers on NBN FTTN plans.
The ACCC has also made clear that the issues have arisen from the technical limitations of FTTN technology and most if not all NBN providers are in breach of Australian consumer law in the same way as Telstra and Optus were, so more action is expected to be pursued against other NBN providers.
In response, Internet Australia – a non-profit advocacy group representing Australian internet users – has called on all NBN ISPs to proactively take steps to offer the same compensation to their own FTTN and FTTB customers.
“With Telstra and now Optus revealing the extent of customers being misled over attainable FTTN and FTTB line speeds, we call all other NBN service providers to proactively review service speeds of customers and follow their example.” Internet Australia chair Dr Paul Brooks said.