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Telstra drops nbn™ in it as it wears compo for broadband speed ads

Carrier says 'it is not possible to accurately determine what speed the NBN can deliver to a customer prior to connection'

Telstra has all-but-blamed nbn™, the company building and operating Australia's national broadband network (NBN), for having to compensate customers who can't experience broadband speeds the carrier advertised.

Telstra will compensate 42,000 customers after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took it to task “for promoting and offering some of its National Broadband Network (NBN) speed plans as being capable of delivering specified maximum speeds, when those maximum speeds could not be achieved in real-world conditions.”

The ACCC has a long history of demanding broadband ads mention typical speeds rather than theoretical maximum speeds. Telstra fell foul of the regulator by advertising NBN plans with a “Super Fast Speed Boost” and maximum download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) and maximum upload speeds of up to 40 Mbps (100/40 Mbps).

The ACCC's announcement of the compensation plan says “Limitations on the affected customers’ NBN fibre to the node (FTTN) or fibre to the building (FTTB) internet connections, however, meant that many customers’ internet services were not capable of receiving the maximum advertised speeds of the plans.”

Telstra's take on the matter acknowledges its ads were on the wrong side of the law. The carrier also blames nbn™ for the situation, saying “Not all homes can receive the maximum speed, especially on the higher speed tiers sold by nbn co to Retail Service Providers (RSPs), due to the underlying technology being rolled out by nbn and other factors.”

The carrier also has this to say:

As it is not possible to accurately determine what speed the NBN can deliver to a customer prior to connection, we have been reviewing the speeds of customers who take up a speed boost on their FTTN or FTTB NBN services after connection. We have been undertaking this review since May 2017 and, where we identify they cannot attain the benefit of the speed boost, we have been contacting them to provide refunds.

For Australia's dominant carrier to twice lay the blame for its problems at the feet of nbn™ is notable, as many critics argue that policy diktats force nbn™ to build an inferior network that cannot satisfy current or future needs and is therefore an unwise use of public funds

Telstra would surely not make such claims idly: as a retailer of nbn™ services it has to stay on the right side of the sole supplier it can turn to for broadband services. This advertising incident is therefore likely to reverberate well beyond the 42,000 customers to which Telstra will return some cash.

For now, Telstra thinks the settlement placers it nicely ahead of the pack, as it is the first telco to strike a deal with the ACCC over broadband ads. ®

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