Thousands to get NBN refunds

The Australian, August 21, 2017

Thousands of subscribers to the National Broadband Network will be refunded after the nation’s biggest telco launched an investigation into overcharging.

In May, Telstra announced it would refund almost 8000 customers after it emerged they were being charged for internet speeds that could never be obtained under the fibre-to-the-node delivery system that was implemented by the federal Coalition in 2013.

Optus yesterday said it was now “undertaking a similar process” and would work to ascertain how many customers had been affected and to refund those who had been short-changed.

“Optus is undertaking a similar process in respect of those customers where it has been confirmed that the underlying NBN service cannot deliver the speed they signed up for,” a spokesman said.

When asked to provide numbers of those affected, Optus declined, saying its “specific customer numbers are confidential”.

The issue of internet speeds under the NBN has become a hot topic after it has emerged many users will pay the same price for the same, or even slower, speeds.

Questions have also been asked over how telcos deal with consumers seeking to verify their internet speeds.

South Australian internet user Christopher Riddell has been monitoring his NBN speeds after he was signed up for Telstra’s peak speed package, which is ­advertised at delivering speeds at 100 megabits-per-second.

In analysis reviewed by The Australian, Mr Riddell has tested his internet speed at peak times — usually after 5pm on weekdays — and found his 100Mbps drops to as low as 2Mbps.

In order to make a return on the $49 billion NBN outlay, NBN Co, a wholesaler, is charging hefty “bandwidth” fees to telcos, who pass that charge on to end users.

The NBN rollout has come under fire because many users have found their connections are as slow as, or slower, than the speeds they were experiencing under their existing ADSL connections.

Optus last week publicly said the high cost of “bandwidth” was preventing it providing high-speed internet to some of its customers. Telstra, however, which controls more than 50 per cent of the NBN retail market, has claimed its customers always enjoy high speeds and it is buying enough bandwidth to fulfil consumer demand.

This is despite The Australian highlighting scores of Telstra customers who are not achieving the NBN speeds they have paid for.

When asked about Telstra’s claims to be consistently providing high NBN speeds, a spokesman said the company “certainly” stood by its statements claiming its customers were not being short-changed.

“Telstra’s earnings are negatively impacted by the rollout of the NBN so, no, we do not accept that we somehow get an unfair advantage through the disconnection payments,” a spokesman said.

“Our NBN offers are based on the full value we provide customers, including exclusive extras like Telstra TV and access to our Telstra Air Wi-Fi network along with the investment we make in our network to deliver customers a great experience.”

Optus said its failure to inform customers their internet connections could not achieve high- speed connections — despite charging customers for the service — was being rectified.