Improving broadband product information
Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams has welcomed the release of a draft code of practice to improve the transparency of broadband product information for consumers.
The code has been developed by the Telecommunications Forum (TCF) in response to a request from Ms Adams that improvements be made to make broadband offerings easier to understand and compare.
It sets expectations for telecommunications companies to provide a consistent set of information to consumers about broadband plans.
The code will include the total costs of a broadband service, the data cap and traffic management policies, minimum contract periods, and the average speed of users on the plan.
It also requires members to provide information about broadband speeds to be verified by an independent testing service, so customers have a clearer understanding of what speeds they can expect.
“As the ultra-fast broadband network is rolled out around the country, consumers will need a clear foundation on which to consider and compare broadband offerings,” Ms Adams says.
“It is important that consumers are provided with accurate information about competing product offerings and are able to make informed choices.”
The code is proposed to be mandatory for all TCF members, which includes the majority of New Zealand’s telecommunications providers.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) had started work on a broadband product disclosure regulation framework, however, Ms Adams is satisfied that the progress made by the TCF to date justified this work being placed on hold at this stage.
“A high level of transparency for broadband products is an important focus for me, and I have asked MBIE to continue to monitor progress in this regard.”
Code for disclosure of broadband plan information announced by the TCF
As the availability of Ultra-Fast Broadband services increases, how will consumers be able to compare different telecommunications service providers and plans? The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) has been working to develop clear guidelines for retail service providers. The suggestions are contained in the TCF’s Draft Broadband Product Disclosure Code which is now open for public consultation.
The need to have a minimum set of information available to consumers wanting to compare broadband plans was highlighted by Communications and Information Technology Minister, Amy Adams. As the forum for all of the key players in the telecommunications industry, the TCF was tasked with developing a standard format for presenting this information to consumers.
David Stone, CEO of the TCF, stated “As an industry, we’re keen to make life as easy as possible for our customers. Our goal is for the standard format for broadband plan information to be as simple to follow as the details you see in a car window on a dealer’s lot. You can see if we have achieved this goal by looking at the proposed format in the draft Code and sending us your feedback.”
Once finalised and approved by the TCF, the Broadband Product Disclosure Code will require all code signatories to provide information about fixed line broadband plans in a comparable and consistent format. This information will be readily accessible to consumers. Over time, the scope of the Code will be widened to cover mobile and wireless broadband plans.
As well as setting the minimum standards for consumer information in what the TCF has termed an Offer Summary, the Code also details:
- How and where retail service providers will need to highlight Offer Summaries as part of their sales processes
- A proposal for a new independent speed measurement scheme, including details of how average speed will be reported in the Offer Summary and in advertising
- Other information that must be made available to consumers about issues and factors that may impact the customer’s broadband speed and/or service