How to deal with slow internet speed

Most internet plans that are sold in Australia will have a speed advertised on it. If you’re experiencing slow internet speeds, you may be able to make a complaint to try to have the issue fixed, and even get a refund on your bill.

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What’s the issue?

Having issues with slow internet? 

If your internet speed is slow, there's a few things you should keep in mind. First, your internet service provider (ISP) is required to offer their internet plans based on the speed that they know is achievable. The speed you can get at home with your internet is affected by lots of factors. Some of these include: 

  • The number of people using the internet at the same time. This is true of both the number of people using your service providers’ network and the number of people using the internet in your own home.
  • The devices you’re using to access the internet. 
  • Problems with the internet infrastructure in your area.
  • Issues in your home like the number of walls between your internet connection and where you usually use the internet.

Unfortunately, some of these issues may mean that you’re paying for a speed that you can’t actually achieve at home. If you think this is happening to you, you can ask your provider to fix any parts of the problem that they are responsible for. If they can’t fix the issue you may be entitled to both a refund on your bill, and to get out of your current contract.

What do you need to know?

Make sure you’re getting the internet speed you paid for

If you think your internet isn’t getting the speeds that you’ve been promised, you’re not alone. In 2017 and 2018 many of the major ISPs, including Telstra, Optus, and TPG admitted that they had advertised their internet plans in ways that were likely to mislead consumers about how fast they could expect their internet speeds to be. In the end, these providers agreed to compensate their customers for the problems they had with their internet connection speeds. 

ISPs are supposed to follow the guidance that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has created on how to advertise speeds for their internet services. To follow these guidelines ISPs should include the following information in their ads for their internet plans: 

  • Identifying the typical speed that customers will see during ‘peak’ times, when lots of customers are likely to be using the internet at the same time; and
  • Information about any factors that are known to affect service performance, such as where the internet is provided by a mix of fibre cables and copper wires (this is the case with services referred to as ‘fibre to the node’, or ‘fibre to the basement’). 

If you think your internet provider didn’t follow the rules when they were advertising their NBN plans then you may be entitled to a discount or to get out of your contract. 

Importantly, even if your ISP did advertise their NBN speeds properly, there may be times when they’re not able to achieve the speeds that you’re paying for. This might happen if there is a problem with things like the cables and wires that are used to get the internet to your home. These issues may take a while to fix, so you can be left paying for an internet speed that you’re not able to achieve. In one case we were able to help a customer get a refund of nearly $600 for slow internet speeds over a 6 month period, where the issue was caused by a faulty connection on the line that the provider had installed. 

Just a bit more

According to the ACCC’s Broadband Performance Data collected in August 2022, the majority of download speed tests recorded on NBN fixed line services, achieved at least 90% of the service’s advertised speed. 15% of services achieved a speed of between 50-90%, and only 1.6% of services recorded less than 50% of the advertised speed. This means that if you’re having issues with the speed that you’re able to get on your internet, it’s definitely not normal, and you should be raising it with your provider.

What can you do?

Check your internet speed today

If you’re concerned about your internet speed, the first thing to do is an internet speed test. If your speed is significantly below the speed that you’re paying for, then it’s probably time to make a complaint to your ISP. Remember that you should check your speed during peak times, like in the evenings after work, and compare that to what your ISP advertises as the typical peak speed for your plan. 

If your speed is slower than you think is reasonable you can contact your ISP about the issue. Make sure you are able to provide them with information about: 

  • The speed you were able to achieve during both peak and off-peak times - you should run the test during at least the morning and evening and take screenshots of your results.
  • The advertised speed that you are paying for.
  • What you want them to do to resolve the issue, eg) do you want them to fix the problem and offer you a refund or do you want a refund and to be able to get out of your contract and go to another provider? 

Your ISP may be able to help you by troubleshooting the issue, but if they can’t then you should be offered the right to move to a different plan with speeds you can achieve and which will cost you less money. 

If you need more help to resolve your slow internet, try using Ajust to lodge an internet speed complaint. Ajust is free to use and can help you make a complaint to any Telco or ISP provider in Australia. Just let us know what the problem is with your internet speed and we’ll take it from there.


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