When you're looking for a great broadband plan, speed is pretty important - but when what's advertised is not always what you get, it makes it harder to narrow down the best deal.
But in good news for internet users, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has set out to dispel misinformation and confusion about broadband speeds. The Commission is about to launch a new monitoring program to test speeds across the country, and is looking for volunteers from a range of providers and plans.
The four-year study will see 4000 households equipped with remote testing devices, which will measure the typical speeds of fixed-line NBN services. Performance will be measured at various times throughout the day, in order to compile more accurate statistics about broadband speeds nation-wide.
Why all the tests?
The ACCC is hopeful that its program will ease customer confusion about what speeds to expect from providers, as well as help to determine the reasons behind underwhelming broadband performance; namely, if slow speeds are related to the NBN itself, or to internet service providers buying insufficient network capacity.
With more than 80% of broadband customers unhappy with the speed information offered by ISPs, it's not surprising that the issue is also the number one source of Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman complaints. The ACCC is aiming to reduce dissatisfaction from consumers by making transparent, accurate speed information available to users, before they sign up for broadband service.
In order to make the government-funded program happen, the ACCC needs volunteer households. It's expected around 2000 homes will be fitted with testing devices in the study's first year, with testing to be run on services from a variety of providers, technologies, speeds and plans.
How to help
If you'd like to raise your hand to volunteer, you can complete an ACCC expression of interest form here. You'll need details of your current internet service on hand, plus a copy of a recent broadband bill.
If you're selected, you'll be sent a hardware-based testing device, which you can self-install on your broadband connection. The device will conduct regular tests between your connection and the monitoring equipment used by the ACCC's study, without recording your personal information or browsing history.
Volunteer applications close at the end of July, with volunteer selections likely to be finalised September, and testing beginning at the end of the year.
Woman on MacBook photo via Pexels