Australian telecom operators fined $22.1 million over false allegations about internet speed

Australian telecom operators fined $22.1 million over false allegations about internet speed

(Reuters) – Australia’s competition regulator said on Friday that three Australian telecoms companies have been ordered by a court to pay A$33.5 million ($22.08 million) in fines for making misleading claims about the speed of some NBN’s internet plans.

The Australian Federal Court has ordered Telstra (TLS.AX) To pay A$15 million, for TPG Telecom’s unit (TPG.AX) up to A$5 million, and imposed a A$13.5 million fine on Optus, a unit of Singapore’s telecoms operator. (STEL.SI)The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said.

According to the ACCC, false or misleading data was made for at least 12 months in 2019 and may have been extended into 2020, regarding 50 megabits per second (Mbps) or 100 megabits per second fiber to contract plans.

The regulator said all three telcos had admitted in court to making false or misleading statements, claiming that nearly 120,000 customers had been affected.

Telstra said in a statement that between April 2019 and April 2020 it failed to verify the maximum possible speed of NBN services that about 48,000 customers requested either in full or within a reasonable period after contact.

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

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

In separate responses via email to Reuters, spokesmen for Optus and TPG Telecom said the companies had made changes to their systems and processes to address concerns raised by the measures.

“During 2021, TPG Internet implemented a remedial program in which it contacted all affected customers and offered refunds to eligible NBN FTTN customers,” a TPG spokesperson said.

Optus said it will also re-contact customers who are eligible for treatment.

($1 = 1.5175 Australian dollars)

Additional reporting by Harshita Swaminathan and Himanshi Akhand in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob Phillips and Rashmi Aish

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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