Care needed to Avoid Anti-Competitive Effects from Broadband Monitoring Regime

Sydney, 7 April 2017 – The Federal Government and ACCC must work to guard against potential anti-competitive outcomes from the just-announced broadband monitoring program, Communications Alliance warned today.

Smaller internet service providers, whose performance will not be included in the program, are worried that they will lose customers to service providers that are included, because of the attention that will be focused on the published data.

“Although the ACCC has told industry today that it doesn’t yet know how many service providers will be included in the regime, it has previously indicated that it expects this will be limited to something like the five largest players,” said Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton.

“Smaller ISPs are worried that being out of the limelight of the published results will cost them customers and damage their businesses.

“The regulator, which exists to promote competition, needs to ensure that it does not engineer the opposite outcome.”

“The ACCC has a dilemma. It can include more ISPs but at the expense of sample sizes and therefore also at the expense of the accuracy and reliability of the published data. Or it can restrict the number of ISPs and risk hurting the smaller players in the market. Or it can blow out the costs of its regime and pile further expense on to consumers.”

“The ACCC has made no mention of further consultation with industry about the implementation of the regime – something that industry sees as vital if the regime is to provide accurate information and hope to meet its stated objectives.”

Mr Stanton welcomed the decision to focus the monitoring regime on next-generation broadband services, rather than on legacy technologies such as ADSL.

He urged the ACCC to provide further clarity about the relationship between the broadband monitoring regime and the broadband speed claims industry guidance that the regulator is also developing.

The speed claims draft guidance urges all ISPs to run their own quarterly sampling program, looking at busy-hour speed performance.  

In a Communications Alliance submission to be lodged with the ACCC today, industry has expressed concern that the methodology proposed by the regulator will not produce results that represent the typical service performance experienced by consumers.

ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS ALLIANCE Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body  in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the  communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet  service providers, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.

Its vision is to  provide a unified voice for the telecommunications industry and to lead  it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and  services. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to promote the growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of  consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance. For more details about  Communications Alliance, see www.commsalliance.com.au.

Media information contact:
Sefiani Communications
Kurt Graham kgraham@sefiani.com.au
0431 478 558