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NBN Alternatives: Contract & Performance issues

iinet
transact
perfomance_issues
hfc_network
hybrid_fibre_coaxial

#1

While visiting relatives in Canberra, I noticed that their Internet was a bit sluggish. A quick test showed that their download speed was about 30% slower than usual. They’re on the TransACT HFC network, not NBN. That network has recently been upgraded. Perhaps the upgrade hasn’t worked too well for this particular service.

I asked what speed they were paying for and got a blank look. Apparently, their retail provider has never quoted speeds (at least, not on TransACT HFC). I gather the plan in question is NetSpeed’s MyShape 10. I checked around the site, but couldn’t find any indication of what speeds could be expected on that network, through that provider. Not giving any undertaking on speeds is one way to avoid contractual problems, I suppose. In the event of a dispute, I guess they’ll have to fall back on the “fit for purpose” provisions in the ACL.

Both TransACT and NetSpeed are now owned by iiNet. Even so, according to my relative, iiNet did its best to exploit the confusion around the “upgrade” to lure them to iiNet as retail customers. Heaven knows how many customers iiNet managed to poach from NetSpeed and other retailers. As far as I can see, iiNet’s retail offerings are considerably more expensive.


#2

Are you saying that the speed was lower than before they were on HFC or slower than previously on the HFC?

At https://www.iinet.net.au/internet-products/broadband/vdsl2/ iiNet talk about the following contracts:
Fast: up to 30Mbps*, and
Fastest: 20-80Mbps*
with the following small print caveat that “*VDSL2 Speeds: Actual throughput speeds may be slower and could vary due to various factors including interference, customer cabling and equipment, download source, and line length.”

You are right that they seem to have covered their rear ends quite well. Depending on which your relatives were signed up to will determine the potential upper speed limits of downloads.

Please note that TPG owns the following are subsidiaries:

  • AAPT
  • Adam Internet
  • Chariot
  • Country NetLink
  • Grapevine
  • iiNet
  • IntraPower
  • Internode
  • Netspace
  • Octa4
  • Origin Internet
  • PIPE Networks
  • RuralNet
  • Soul
  • TransACT
  • Westnet,
    and as has been discussed previously on this forum, TPG is not known for their customer focus. Since TPG bought iiNet in 2016, iiNet’s customer service has diminished markedly.

As I’m sure you are aware if it is regularly & significantly lower than their plan advertised, your relatives will need to regularly measure and record their speeds to build a case under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

For more information on the ACL, please search the forum as there is lots of information on how to go about it.


#3

While maybe not on the NBN (maybe they are as iiNet is TPG) they will be using the Fibre Backbone which is NBN owned and operated. Congestion could be where they intersect the Backbone but is really more likely a result of the typical afternoon/evening congestion blues (a result of perhaps under purchasing of CVC) due to the number of users on.

The HFC is a shared bandwidth from the point of a user’s house all the way to the internet. They share the line that passes their house/premises with all the other users on that particular line, so when lots of people are home and using that cable the piece of that shared “pie” can be very small. So two likely answers are a lack of CVC and/or heavily shared resources on the cable, less likely answers are congestion at the Point of Intersection and/or the Fibre Backbone.


#4

The latter. They’ve been on TransACT HFC for years. The HFC was recently “upgraded”.

As far as I’ve been able to find out, it’s a completely separate network. TransACT pre-dates the NBN by decades. In the part of Canberra in question, NBN is rolling out as well. TransACT competes with NBN (which is using the old Telstra copper). CVC is an NBN thing, so it’s unlikely to be an issue here.

I really don’t know what iiNet/TPG is up to, but I don’t trust them. I tried to convince my relatives to have NBN connected while connection is free, to act as a backup if (when) iiNet does something nasty. Sadly, I failed.


#5

Ahh as far as I know the old backbone was Telstra owned but as part of the NBN plan this along with the Exchanges, conduits etc were purchased by NBNCo. Telstra and TPG among a number of others do keep their own Fibre networks but to traverse Au they do use the Backbone. Telstra does own its own fibre backbone but this is mostly international cabling and has fibre cable between a number of overseas locations but I don’t think TPG has moved in the same way. https://www.itnews.com.au/news/telstra-expands-asian-backbone-419273

These alternate Fibre Networks are sometimes referred to as the Dark Fibre Network and is price regulated so as to be on par with the NBN cost.


#6

There’s a lot of wriggle-room there. Which cost? What charging structure?

As I said, I’ve no idea what they’re cooking up. Knowing TPG, it’s unlikely to be good for consumers.


#7

iiNet might own Netspeed (I’ve not been able to confirm that, only have my relatives’ word for it), but NetSpeed is not iiNet. Is NetSpeed bound by what iiNet say? I honestly don’t know. I do know that they were separate entities. In their place, I’d keep the corporate structure as diverse as possible, for flexibility purposes. What “flexibility” might mean for consumers, Heaven (or perhaps the other place) knows.

As far as I can see, NetSpeed doesn’t mention speed at all (apart from shaping) for their TransACT services.


#8

The ACCC does:

I can’t locate whether iiNet owns NetSpeed but I can say that NetSpeed Internet Communications ABN 49 052 315 812 & Velocity Internet are trading names of ByteCard Pty Ltd ACN 052 315 812 who use the TransACT network which I believe is owned by TPG as indicated above by @meltam6554.


#9

That seems to focus on access and pricing. Not seeing how it relates to my relatives’ contract with NetSpeed. The lack of any indicative speeds in that contract falls back to the ACL’s “fit for purpose”. What does that mean in this context? Note that NetSpeed’s “shaped” speed is as low as 72 kb/s. Is that “fit for purpose”? It would probably work - sort of. From personal experience, Facebook on a 64 kb/s service works, but it’s something of a Zen experience. One learns patience. :wink:

I think TransACT is owned by iiNet. TPG owns iiNet, but they’re legally separate entities. Corporate structures can be Byzantine.


#11

Sorry I wasn’t answering in that post following that quote, who was responsible for the speed issue. I did reflect on a number of possible reasons above in a previous post. I was answering in the post who had oversight of the cost/charging structure for the non NBN High Speed Internet which is the ACCC. Well not cost in the sense of build but rather Consumer cost of access.

The ACCC looked to TPG as the entity to respond to in the submissions on the non NBN High Speed Internet and not their subsidiaries including iiNet. But as noted the structures can attempt to absolve others from blame just not sure how the ACCC might view that behaviour if it was being used to circumvent scrutiny/responsibility.

Do I think the speed is anywhere near useful, No!

I support your call that it is woeful. So the first port of call would be Netspeed Internet Communications & the supplier of the TransWEB account ie TransACT as “you must have a TransWEB account with TransACT in order to utilise NetSpeed’s TransACT connection plans” to discuss the poor speeds. Then the TIO and then ACCC followed by ACMA.

I also note that ByteCard P/L have been successfully prosecuted in the past (2013) by the ACCC for Unfair Consumer Contracts https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/court-declares-consumer-contract-terms-unfair. I don’t know what view the ACCC would take of the speed issues but they have been seen to be cracking down on claims by many RSPs so I am guessing chances are probably good that they might get involved.


#12

https://www.transact.com.au/about-us

Yes, it is owned by IInet. IInet is now owned by TPG, so in effect, TransACT is owned by TPG.


#13

Yes, and perhaps. It depends on the corporate structure.

I used to work in the ATO, preparing paperwork for prosecutions. Manipulation of corporate structures frustrated our efforts more than once. We’ll never know unless it comes to the crunch.


#14

That’s the problem; Netspeed’s contract makes no speed claim. They’re in the clear, unless a customer can prove that the service is not fit for purpose.


#15

They sort of do make a defacto speed claim by what they consider as their shaping speeds. To achieve a faster speed than 72 Kbps under shaping you pay an extra amount per day (they say most pay for the 256 Kbps shaping which adds $2 per day). But the maximum speed available under the shaping provisions is 2000 Kbps at $12 per day. How could they shape you to 2000 Kbps unless they provide a similar or faster speed than this shaped package as their normal speed. That should be an argument that can be used as to what is normal/expected.


#16

A lawyer might try to argue that. Not sure whether it would fly in a court of law. Then there’s the question of whether 2000 Kb/s is fit for purpose. As I’ve said, 72 Kb/s is usable - sort of - but fit for purpose?


#17

If you raise a complaint with the TIO you don’t require a lawyer as far as I know.

As you never specified the rate which was normal I took the 72 Kbps as being the lowest shaped speed they would provide not what they are getting normally. If they get shaped to 72 Kbps this is the contract they made. If they use their peak amount before the end of a month they will be shaped regardless of if they have off peak still available which I am guessing you already know but just stating it in case. If 72 Kbps is what they are getting normally then a complaint to the TIO is warranted and you could use the top shaping tier as as example of what should be at least normally expected.

Is 2 Mbps good? No it is at best comparable to ADSL 1. But it is a starting point to argue from if they are getting less.

But in all of this if they don’t raise a complaint/issue firstly with Netspped and TransACT and then the TIO nothing will change for them, perhaps there is a line problem that Netspeed and or TransACT are unaware of, or a number of other issues that may be resolved by doing that first approach and then if needed a complaint to the TIO. If Netspeed and TransACT have been already approached and no joy has been achieved then TIO should be the next step.


#18

Hard to formulate a complaint. The service is slower than it was, but still usable. It meets all the conditions of the contract. From my perspective, that’s the main issue - the contract.


#19

I would still ask for a line test and report the lower speeds, it may get a benefit and it may not but it doesn’t cost to ask and have them do a line test. Whether your rellies decide to take it further if it doesn’t pay-off will at least be with some knowledge of what has been reported.


#20

Hah, iiNet. That’s part of the problem. They were great until TPG took over, and our service, both customer and internet went to complete rubbish. Now I reckon they switched from the business of delivering internet to the business of making money. Which was sad to see. We fled to Telstra and never looked back except with the occasional stink eye.


#21

Can somebody fix the tag “hcf_network”? I tried, but couldn’t figure out how. Unless we’re talking about health insurance, it should be hfc, not hcf.

Come to think of it, initialisms aren’t the best for communication. Perhaps something like “hybrid_fibre-coax” would work better. I have a feeling we’re going to need that tag, quite a lot.