Optus to refund NBN customers for slow connections

'Technical limitations' hobbled copper-based services

Telstra copper in broken pit

Optus has become the second Australian carrier to announce refunds for customers unable to get decent National Broadband Network connections.

Under pressure from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Telstra in November 'fessed up that performance on the NBN didn't match its advertising and said it would offer refunds to more than 40,000 customers.

Optus' refund program, announced today by the ACCC, covers around 8,700 customers.

The ACCC said for nearly two years, “Optus offered NBN services to consumers advertising a range of speed plans. This included a 'Boost Max' which advertised maximum download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) and maximum upload speeds of up to 40 Mbps (100/40 Mbps).”

As with Telstra, the top was wildly optimistic if a customer was on nbn™'s widely-criticised fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) or fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) networks, “technical limitations … meant they could not get the speeds that were advertised”.

And as with Telstra, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said “many affected Optus FTTN customers could not even receive the maximum speed of a lower-tier plan. This is a concerning trend we have seen throughout the industry and we are working to fix this”.

The ACCC announcement said 48 per cent of customers on the top speed plan couldn't get 100 Mbps downloads (or 40 Mbps uploads), and 21 per cent couldn't even hit 50/20 Mbps. More than a quarter of 50/20 Mbps customers, 1,519 in total, couldn't get the speed they signed for, and 1,381 customers (3 per cent) on 25/5 Mbps plans couldn't get that speed.

As well as the refunds, the court-enforceable undertaking Optus agreed to, the carrier will check speeds within four weeks of a new connection, and if the performance falls short, “Optus will notify the customer and offer remedies”.

While it agreed to a refund program in November, Telstra twice blamed nbn™'s “underlying technology” for customers' buffering connections. ®




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