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The ACCC is providing more detailed guidance concerning how to implement its principles for advertising the speeds of retail fixed-line broadband plans.

This guide has been prepared in consultation with network operators, retail service providers (RSPs) and consumer representatives. It has been designed to improve the information and support available to broadband consumers and to promote competition among RSPs, having regard to practicalities that RSPs may face in developing and substantiating their speed claims.

This guide is intended to promote best practice advertising by RSPs. The Australian Consumer Law (ACL)1 applies to RSPs irrespective of compliance with this guide and it is the responsibility of RSPs to comply with that law.

The four key guidelines for RSPs are that they should:

· indicate, in their plan descriptions and when marketing broadband plans that they supply over the National Broadband Network (NBN) and similar fixed-line based broadband access networks, the speeds at which the plans typically operate during the busy evening period

· in order to assist consumers to readily compare plans, adopt a standardised labelling system (basic evening speed, standard evening speed, standard plus evening speed and premium evening speed) that indicates a minimum ‘typical busy period speed’2 for the plan

· take steps to provide remedies to those customers that cannot obtain the speeds at which their selected plan typically operates due to their particular network connection. This may include taking steps to deliver the speeds promised under the plan3 , providing billing refunds and reductions, supplying a more appropriate plan and/or offering to those customers the option to exit the contract without penalty

· for services supplied over FTTB and FTTN4 connections, where there is clear potential for some consumers to not receive typical plan speeds, RSPs should include clear and prominent disclosure in product descriptions and marketing, and give point of sale or post sale information and assistance to affected customers.

This guide will be reviewed in 12 months to ascertain whether it has been effective in addressing consumer concerns about broadband speed claims and the comparability of fixed line broadband plans.

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