Do we need NBN performance standards?

ACCAN raises concerns about quality of landline phones and service reporting

ACCAN argued that work on NBN performance standards is urgently required at the NBN Joint Committee hearing on Friday 19th April in Sydney. The NBN Joint Committee comes together every six months to inquire into the NBN rollout and is comprised of 16 parliamentary members including Rob Oakeshott MP, Malcolm Turnbull MP and Senator Scott Ludlam, among others.

ACCAN’s submission to the committee addressed many consumer concerns, however during the hearing ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin focused on two key issues: quality of voice services over the NBN and quality of service reporting.

Quality of voice services over the NBN

We highlighted that many people are unaware that their landline phone service, currently delivered over copper, will change and be delivered over broadband (often called IP telephony or VoIP). This is important because the quality that we’re used to with our current landline phones is guaranteed through an industry code, however a similar code does not yet exist for IP telephony.

Therefore, it is essential that people are guaranteed a quality landline phone service over the new broadband network. We think pro-active regulation is needed to ensure this, and it will not be acceptable to wait for poor quality landline phone services to become commonplace before taking action.

Quality of service reporting

We believe there should be reliable and easy-to-understand information about the performance of different providers to help people choose one provider over another. This information could be obtained by having monthly reports with providers’ performances compared to some key benchmarks (such as download throughput, upload throughput, latency and packet loss). Precedents for this degree of accountability and transparency exist in other broadband-enabled countries, such as Singapore.

Providing public access to such data would not only benefit Australian consumers, but would also stimulate the market to deliver consistently high quality internet services.

Read more: ACCAN submission to NBN Joint Committee