NBN Co is being given fresh motivation to fix congestion in its fixed wireless network as new rules and guidance take effect on how such services are sold, remediated and remedied.
The changes make fixed wireless services subject to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) NBN marketing rules for the first time.
What this means for retail service providers (RSPs) was already laid out last year.
Effectively, they must market fixed wireless services much as they do FTTN/B services, signing users up to the slowest until their connection speed can be measured, or signing them up to a higher speed plan on the proviso it may need to be downgraded in future.
However, RSPs will still be exempt from publishing typical busy hour speeds for fixed wireless, after industry said it would be of little utility, and the ACCC agreed.
That advice is directed both at prospective fixed wireless users as well as those already signed up, particularly to under-performing or congested services.
The ACCC makes it clear that consumers should ask more detailed questions of RSPs in the sign-up process.
This is mostly aimed at working out whether or not their premises fall in a known congested area, in which case the ACCC advises the consumer may wish to consider delaying placing an order.
“If it is likely that you will be connected to a cell that is congested, and you have an ADSL service that is working well, you may want to consider delaying your fixed wireless order, or not cancelling your ADSL service, until the cell is upgraded,” the ACCC advises.
For those already stuck in congested cells, the ACCC advises them to exercise consumer rights including potential termination of the service without charge.
The commission also recommends such users plan ahead if they want to watch things at times streaming would be impossible.
“Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime Video allow you to download content to watch later on certain devices. Plan what you want to watch in the evening beforehand, then download it overnight or during the day. Doing this will eliminate buffering and you may also be able to watch your preferred content at a higher resolution,” the ACCC advises.
Fixed wireless cell congestion was slightly worse in April than it was in March, according to figures released today by NBN Co.
The ACCC acknowledged NBN Co’s short-term efforts to remediate congestion, as well as its longer term upgrades to the tune of $800 million through to 2022.
However, the commission noted that it remains undecided these measures are enough.
“While these network upgrades on the fixed wireless network will improve speeds, the higher speed plans may still experience reduced speeds in some of the busy evening hours,” it said.
“The ACCC is considering whether any additional measures are required.”