NBN providers will soon have to disclose upload speeds under new ACCC rules

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It’s standard practice for Australia's NBN providers to advertise their typical download speeds, but the telcos are far less transparent about their upload speeds. That’s set to change, as internet providers will soon be required to disclose their true upload speeds under updated requirements.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has introduced the new rules, and says it expects internet providers to make information about plan upload speeds available to consumers within the next three months.

This updated guidance applies to fixed line NBN connections, while fixed wireless services (which are typically used in rural and remote areas) have six months to disclose their true upload speeds to consumers.

At a minimum, the ACCC’s new guidance requires Aussie telcos to prominently display their typical upload speeds during peak hours on their websites. It won’t be required on all forms of marketing material, after significant pushback from the telcos.

Currently, some telcos disclose each plan’s upload speed in a critical information summary, but a link to this page is typically small and hard to find, and sometimes still does not include explicit details. With the ACCC’s choice of words being “prominently displayed”, we expect to see these upload figures much more front and centre.

Why you should care about internet upload speed

The consumer watchdog has been pushing for these changes since at least January 2022, so why are consumer upload speeds important? Prior to the pandemic, upload speeds were mostly a fairly niche concern, but the shift to working and learning from home has changed the landscape.

Now, Australians also need reliable upload speeds for video calling, online content creation and for sending large files over the internet. As upload speeds became more important, the ACCC argued that telcos were not transparent about their true upload speeds.

“At the retail level, upload speeds have become less visible in retail marketing since 2020,” reads the ACCC’s report. “By mid-2022, many retail providers did not include any reference to upload speeds in their marketing of residential broadband services.”

Despite the shift to working from home, the ACCC’s report found the “busy period” for upload speeds is the same as it is for download speeds – 7pm to 11pm.

The ACCC is also giving the providers some wiggle room, as it says they’re able to estimate the final numbers if it’d be too expensive to test them accurately. “Fixed line services may estimate typical busy period upload speeds by selecting an upload speed that is 15% below the maximum upload speed in the product description.”

“For example, for a retail product with maximum download/upload speeds of 50/20Mbps, a 15% reduction on the 20Mbps upload speed would be 17Mbps.”

Jasmine Gearie
Ecommerce editor

Jasmine Gearie is an ecommerce editor at TechRadar Australia, with a primary focus on helping readers cut through the jargon to find the best mobile and internet plans for their needs. She crunches the numbers to maintain dedicated guides to the latest phones, NBN and broadband plans of all types, and covers the important telco industry news. She also hunts down tech deals on laptops, phones, gaming consoles and more, so readers know where to buy the products they want for the cheapest prices.