Optus will compensate more than 8,700 customers who were misled about the speed of their plans.
The telco also admitted it is likely to have breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) by providing speeds slower than what it advertised between September 2015 and June 2017.
These slower speeds were due to “technical limitations” on the customers’ fibre to the node (FTTN) or fibre to the building (FTTB) NBN connections, said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Optus’ most expensive “Boost Max” plan was supposed to reach maximum download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps), and maximum upload speeds of up to 40 Mbps (100/40 Mbps).
The ACCC has revealed almost half the FTTN (fibre to the node) customers on that plan (5,430 people) were unable to reach such speeds.
Furthermore, 21 per cent of customers (2,337) could not even reach half of that speed.
“Worryingly, many affected Optus FTTN customers could not even receive the maximum speed of a lower-tier plan,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
“This is a concerning trend we have seen throughout the industry and we are working to fix this.”
As for its next fastest plan (50/20 Mbps), more than a quarter of FTTN customers (1,519) on a 50/20 plan could not receive that top speed.
Telstra’s much higher tally
The number of Optus NBN customers who got less than they bargained for pales in comparison to Telstra’s.
“Optus is the second major internet provider we have taken action against for selling broadband speeds they could not deliver to their customers,” Mr Sims said.
Back in early November, Telstra admitted 42,000 of its customers were getting slower-than-expected speeds — almost five times higher than Optus’ tally.
Optus has provided a court-enforceable undertaking to the ACCC, detailing the remedies it will provide to affected customers.
These remedies include refunds, changing speed plans, discounts, and customers being able to exit from contracts without paying a penalty.
Optus will also be required to check with customers, within four weeks of connecting them to a new NBN plan, to see whether they are receiving the speeds they paid for.
If during that check, the customers are getting less than the advertised speeds, the telco will need to notify them and offer remedies.
However, the ACCC warned that customers may not get faster speeds if they exit their Optus contracts and move to another internet provider.
Optus will contact its affected consumers by email or letter by March 2.