NBN begins providing broadband speed advice

NBN has added speed information, advice on what speed tier to order, and a list of potential factors that could affect speed performance to its website in an effort to improve customer experience.

The National Broadband Network (NBN) company has added speed information to its website in order assist customers in choosing what speed tier is most suited to their needs, as well as what may be affecting their broadband speeds -- and whose fault it likely is.

According to NBN, the information is part of its bid to improve customer experience by "reducing confusion regarding the different roles NBN and the retailers play in building and delivering broadband services".

"We are working with the retail service providers and industry to better inform consumers and businesses, and help them better understand who is responsible for which portions of their internet experience as well as what steps they can take in order to receive the best possible installation and internet experience," NBN chief customer officer John Simon said.

"It's important that Australians understand the role of NBN as the access network connecting their homes and businesses to services provided by retailers."

NBN's website now makes note of the factors that could be affecting speeds according to three categories: "The set-up at your home or business", including networking equipment, Wi-Fi interference, and the amount of devices online at the same time; "your phone and internet service provider", which includes network congestion, the speed tiers and plans offered by RSPs, and the quality of the Wi-Fi unit; and then the category of the NBN itself, which is simply described as "a large number of network components and cables used to connect your home to the internet", where "sometimes things go wrong".

NBN has also released a video explaining the three main speed tiers, which have been labelled "NBN 25", "NBN 50", and "NBN 100" for the speed tiers with 25Mbps, 50Mbps, and 100Mbps download speeds, respectively.

According to the company, NBN 25 is suitable for browsing the web, streaming videos, and sending emails; NBN 50 is for HD video streaming, uploading and downloading large files, and partaking in "responsive" gaming online; and NBN 100 upgrades this streaming to 4K and online gaming to "super responsive".

"NBN is a provider of wholesale speeds to internet service providers. Your experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the NBN network, is determined by your service provider and the plan you choose and depends on the technology over which services are delivered to your premises and some factors outside our control (like your equipment quality and software)," the company adds on its website.

NBN's move to reduce customer confusion over speeds follows new NBN RSP Amaysim earlier this month publishing research showing that 83.3 percent of respondents don't know the NBN speed tiers.

Amaysim also found that 71 percent of its respondents don't understand the different speeds available; 70.5 percent don't know which speed they should order to best suit their needs; and 53.3 percent believe the bigger telcos have better NBN speeds than smaller RSPs.

As of this month, 1.7 million NBN users are still on download speeds of 25Mbps or slower.

Last month, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also announced that it will begin monitoring fixed-line NBN speeds thanks to a AU$7 million funding injection from the federal government.

"This information will ... allow the ACCC to determine if issues are being caused by the performance of the NBN, or by internet service providers not buying sufficient capacity," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims explained.

The ACCC had in February published a set of guidelines for ISPs to follow when advertising their broadband speeds in order to improve accuracy and prevent misleading claims -- with Communications Minister Mitch Fifield saying that NBN was being unfairly criticised over misleading speed claims being made by RSPs.

Fifield told a party meeting at the time that RSPs had been promising unrealistic speeds across the NBN, and that these complaints should be "disaggregated" from those being made about NBN itself.

NBN has been attempting to improve consumer information on its website, in February adding a new functionality to its rollout checker that allows consumers to find out when they can contact RSPs to connect their premises to the network.

This followed NBN adding "ready for service" areas to its rollout map in November, and enabling all consumers to search its rollout map for when they will be connected and by what network technology -- except premises being serviced by hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) technology -- in December.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Australian Department of Communications published far more extensive information on NBN rollout statistics by electorate in March, however.

The document provides exhaustive details on when each region within every electorate in Australia will have NBN build commence and by what network technology, as well as how many premises are ready for service, have an active NBN connection, and will be reached by the NBN.