Throttling Lands Australian ISP in Hot Water

Paul Lilly

There's a huge difference between 100Mbps and 64Kbps, and throttling the former to the latter has earned Austrian ISP "Optus" a date with a judge.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Optus misled consumers with its "Supersonic" and "Think Bigger" broadband plans, violating the Trade Practices Act in the process. The ACCC points out 11 television, print, billboard, and Internet advertisements claiming the Supersonic services are "four times faster than standard broadband," but fail to disclose the almost dial-up speeds for users who chew through their monthly data limit.

The data caps sit at 50GB for peak hours (12am to 12pm) and 70GB for off-peak hours (12pm to 12am), and those who go over will see their supersonic 100Mbps throttled to a super slow 64Kbps. Absent, however, are any excess usage charges.

Even so, the ACCC "alleges that Optus engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false representations in relation to the advertising of certain broadband plans." To help with their case, regulators plan to call in an expert to examine the practical differences between 100Mbps and 64Kbps by going over what services and apps can be realistically be used on each speed grade.

This isn't the first time Optus' advertising practices have landed the company in hot water. Back in June, the ACCC took Optus to court on similar charges for using the word "unlimited" to describe voice and data plans that had usage caps and prices.

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