Internet speed plans - Solomon Star News

Internet speed plans

01 April 2014

LIKE mobile phones, the internet is a need for many ordinary consumers in today's modern technology-driven society.

Internet service providers (ISPs) understand the demand and have tried to attract consumers with promotions highlighting how faster their speeds are or how generous they are with data.

The fact is that consumers are hooked on to their respective internet plans but often complain that they are not getting the speed promised to them by their ISPs.

Why are internet plans based on speeds which ISPs cannot guarantee? Is this fair?

With the increase in internet use, the Consumer Council has also recorded an increase in queries/complaints from consumers raising concerns over the kind of service they receive from some ISPs in the country.

Many of these aggrieved consumers want the ISPs to experience the situation where someone is in the middle of a very important bank transaction, job interview, assignment discussion or simply a conversation, suddenly finds a break in connectivity.

Who should be responsible for this loss of not just money but the time, which is of great essence in today's busy and competitive world?

Speed has become important to many internet users and some go through unnecessary mental stress when they are unable to complete their work on time because of a slow internet connection.

Some consumers have even expressed concern, saying they are paying money to access internet but are unable to find the speed to download their reading material and as a result, are left with little choice but to go to cyber cafes to access the internet.

Keeping such grievances in mind, the global consumer body, Consumers International (CI), in 2012 announced a campaign titled Holding Broadband Service Providers to Account.

The campaign aims to empower consumer organisations around the world to demand more equitable and accessible broadband service offerings, respecting consumers' rights as a necessary condition of achieving a socially-inclusive information society.

The Consumer Council launched its national campaign for broadband nutrition labeling in September last year aimed at getting ISPs to be more truthful in the information they provide to consumers.

The council is calling on ISPs to provide a broadband disclosure statement which summarises essential information that can assist consumers to make an informed decision.

The statement should not only provide essential information for consumers to make informed choices, but also allow them to compare services between various ISPs in the market.

The broadband disclosure statement proposed by the council involves five basic components: speed variation; reliability; service limits and conditions; pricing information and; other information.

One of the problems faced by internet users is misleading advertisements.

* This is a regular contribution from the Consumer Council of Fiji. Published in the Fiji Times.