ACCC picks SamKnows for broadband monitoring


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 04 December, 2017


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The ACCC has selected UK-based internet performance monitoring company SamKnows to undertake the $6.5 million broadband speeds monitoring program.

SamKnows has developed devices it calls whiteboxes that regularly test download speeds, monitors for connection problems and publishes monthly reports.

The monitoring program will see broadband speeds recorded across 4000 Australian households over the next four years, with around 2000 households set to receive testing devices over the first year.

The first results from speed tests will be publicly disclosed by the end of the first quarter of next year.

“Our Measuring Broadband Australia program is going to be a real game changer for internet users and for the broadband market, especially as consumers shop around for nbn services,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“We’ve had more than 8000 households sign up to take part in the program, and we’re pleased to be launching this in the next month. There will be a huge amount of interest in the results.”

The ACCC is also seeking feedback on Telstra’s proposed modifications to its nbn migration plan designed to facilitate the rollout of fibre to the curb (FTTC) technology.

The modifications are required to incorporate FTTC, which was not part of the multitechnology mix when the most recent approved migration plan was developed in 2015.

“The ACCC will be considering whether the proposed changes offer adequate protections for customers to maintain access to the services they value during migration to the nbn,” Sims said.

Finally, the regulator announced the results of its program to evaluate whether ISPs are complying with new guidelines designed to ensure that consumers receive clearer information about the broadband speeds they can expect from their connection.

“We are pleased to report that Telstra and Optus have recently changed their marketing information to provide their customers with comparable information about the typical busy period broadband speeds that they can expect on various plans,” Sims said.

“The remainder of the industry continues to advertise internet plans using unhelpful speed ranges, referencing off-peak speeds or failing to provide consumers with any information about the speed of their services during busy hours.”

The ACCC’s regulatory activities were prompted by growing discontent over the quality of nbn services, but the question of who is to blame for poor nbn speeds is still hotly contested.

While nbn has often insisted that it is retail service providers purchasing inadequate bandwidth that is to blame, Stefano Boscutti, founding director of communications specialist The Writers, said the nbn’s own messaging is adding to the confusion around internet services and speeds.

“The nbn claims it doesn’t want to be seen as an internet provider, but it’s spending millions of taxpayer dollars running advertising campaigns and television commercials focusing on how it’s improving internet access and speed for the end user,” he said.

“Even the nbn website is flooded with images of end users actively accessing the internet on a variety of devices. The business section of the nbn website is drowning in stock photos of business people handling dozens of connected devices in business environments. No wonder people are confused.”

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