Summary of the issue

TDR receives complaints from customers relating to internet speeds. Concerns usually relate to speeds being slower than expected.

Usual positions of the parties

The usual position taken by customers is that they find the speed their internet service is provided at does not meet their expectation of what a broadband service should be. Complaints are often received relating to drop-outs in service, and being unable to connect to the internet at all on occassions.

Often Scheme Members will dispute that service is as slow as alleged, or provide an explanation as to why the customer is likely to have experienced slow speeds. Commonly Scheme Members advise TDR that they provide a 'best efforts' service, meaning they make no undertaking with their customers to provide any particular internet speed.

TDR's view of the issue

TDR recognises that customers can access the internet using difference services. Those include, dial-up, ADSL, ADSL2+, cable, or via a mobile connection (3G, GPRS, etc). TDR accepts that those difference services will result in different potential speeds, and customer experience. Also, some Scheme Members allow the customer to elect different speeds in selecting the product which they contract for.

TDR accepts that a customer's internet speed is affected by a range of variables, such as:

  • Telephone line technology and service quality
  • Distance from the telephone exchange, i.e. the length of copper wire from the exchange
  • The number of, and type of, other services being used over the same cable by other customers
  • The configuration and line quality of the copper wire between the exchange and the customer's premises/residence
  • Electrical interference from outside sources, e.g. electric motors and electric fences
  • The customer's hardware or modem
  • The software configuration and application on the customer's computer, in particular how it uses the uplink back to the exchange
  • The capacity of, load on, and access data rate of the destination host computer which the customer is accessing

TDR notes it is uncommon for a Scheme Member to make any particular undertaking as to Internet speed which a customer is likely to receive. The usual position is that the service provided will be a 'best efforts' service. TDR acknowledges that such a situation is in large measure a consequence of the variables noted above.

Generally TDR is not able to consider any complaints relating to Internet speed or congestion, as they are expressly excluded from the scope of the Customer Complaints Code.

However, TDR may be able to consider a complaint relating to a broadband service is the following situations:

  1. When the Scheme Member made an undertaking to the customer, or marketed their product as having a particular minimum speed. Such complaints will be considered under the Fair Trading Act 1996.
  2. When the complaint relates to a customer being unable to establish a reliable Internet connection. TDR considers that irrespective of the actual speed received, the customer should be able to establish a reasonably reliable Internet connection.