Australian telecom companies face A$33.5m fine over false internet speed claims

Three Australian telecom companies have been ordered by a court to pay a collective sum of AUD 33.5 million (approximately Rs 180 crore) as penalties for making misleading claims about the speed of certain internet plans NBN said the country’s competition regulator on Friday. The Australian Federal Court ordered Telstra to pay AUD 15 million (about Rs. 80 crore), a unit of TPG Telecom to spit out AUD 5 million, and imposed a fine of AUD 13.5 million (about Rs. 72 crore) to Optus, a unit of Singapore Telecommunications, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) said.

According to the ACCC, the false or misleading statements were made for at least 12 months in 2019 and possibly extended through 2020, related to their 50 megabits per second (Mbps) or 100Mbps fiber plans to the nodes.

The three telecom operators admitted in court to making false or misleading statements, the regulator said, saying nearly 120,000 customers were affected.

Telstra said in a statement that between April 2019 and April 2020, it failed to verify the maximum attainable speed of NBN services ordered by around 48,000 customers, either completely or within a reasonable time after connection.

NBN, or National Broadband Network, is a government-run broadband network.

“We have gone through an extensive repair and refund process. We have also taken a number of steps to ensure we better meet our regulatory obligations,” Telstra added.

Spokespersons for Optus and TPG Telecom, in emailed responses to Reuters, said the companies had made changes to their systems and processes to address concerns raised by the proceedings.

“In 2021, TPG Internet undertook a remediation program where it contacted all affected customers and offered refunds to NBN FTTN customers who were eligible,” a TPG spokesperson said.

Optus said it will also recontact eligible customers for remediation.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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