| 06.08,19. 09:50 AM |
Australian telcos fined for not revealing how slow their internet speeds might be on the NBN
Photo: ACMA says it is disappointing the telcos fail to comply at this stage in the NBN rollout. (Unsplash: Markus Spiske)
Seven telcos have been slapped with fines for not being up-front about how slow their internet speeds might be on the National Broadband Network.
Activ8me, Aussie Broadband, Flip TV, Hello Broadband, Mate Communicate, My Net Fone and Telechoice were all found to be in breach of new rules.
In each case, the breaches related to a lack of information about plans and network speeds. They have each been fined $12,600.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) introduced the rules a year ago in a bid to protect customers migrating to the NBN.
Telcos were required to publish a fact sheet with information about their NBN services, including how slow they might be during peak times.
They were also ordered to "line test" new services to ensure everything was working properly.
ACMA member Fiona Cameron said failure to comply at such a late stage in the NBN rollout was completely unacceptable.
"It's nearly a year since these standards have been put in place and it's enough time for telcos to get their house in order and ensure consumers are given the best information, as the standards require," she said.
"It's not hard to get the key facts sheets right … so it was disappointing."
The authority had already issued formal warnings to 27 internet providers found to be in breach of the rules last year.
But Ms Cameron said they had decided to escalate their response.
"I think it's a pretty significant deterrent — it's $12,600 per provider and these providers aren't huge," she said.
"Telcos really ought to be getting this right, because we're moving to the pointy end of the NBN rollout."
She said it was encouraging to see that Australia's biggest providers were not among those fined.
Future breaches could lead to bigger fines
The chief executive of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Teresa Corbin, welcomed the decision to issue fines to companies breaking the rules.
"I think they will be a deterrent, because nobody wants to see their company's name held in disrepute," she said.
"And obviously consumers are looking around at the moment to see where they might switch to, which provider they might use with the NBN.
"So there's a lot of movement in the market and the providers really don't want negative publicity."
ACMA said the seven providers who had received fines were no longer in breach of the rules.
But it warned that future breaches by internet providers could attract bigger fines or Federal Court action.