Wanted: 3,000 volunteers to help arm kiwis with better broadband information

The Commerce Commission is seeking 3,000 households to be part of a nationwide programme to monitor and improve New Zealand’s broadband performance.

“Kiwis love being connected to the internet and together we spend more than $1.2 billion a year on home broadband bundles. Despite this, we know that many consumers find broadband baffling. Products and pricing can be complex and in-home performance can be hard for consumers to measure,” Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said.

The aim of the monitoring programme is to provide consumers with independent information on broadband performance across different providers, plans, and technologies, to help them choose the best broadband for their household. Shining a light on actual broadband performance will also encourage telco providers to compete on performance and not just price.

“To make sure we get an accurate picture of how New Zealand’s broadband is performing, we need volunteers from all parts of the country, of all ages, and on all types of broadband technologies, plans and providers to take part,” Dr Gale said.

Volunteers will be provided with a Whitebox (similar to a modem) to plug in at home. The Whitebox will perform automated tests on a home’s internet performance at different times of the day. It will not record any personal information or browsing history and does not interfere with your internet service. A small amount of your broadband data will be used to conduct testing. However, this is expected to have little to no impact on testing volunteers.

Dr Gale said SamKnows has been selected to run the programme following an open tender process. The programme is costing $2.8 million over three years.

“SamKnows was a standout applicant. It is considered to be a world leader in internet service performance, currently assessing broadband performance for about half of the world’s internet population,” Dr Gale said.

Monitoring results and reports will be available on a dedicated website from October 2018 at www.measuringbroadbandnewzealand.com

Watch our volunteer recruitment video here.

More information on the programme and details about how to become a volunteer can be found at www.comcom.govt.nz/broadbandvolunteer

SamKnows was founded in 2003 and is based in London. It is considered to be a world leader in internet performance measurement and its current testing programmes cover almost half of the world’s internet population. It works with regulators from the UK, US, European Commission, Singapore, Brazil and Canada to measure internet performance across the whole of Europe, North and South America, parts of Asia, and Australia. More information about Sam Knows can be found at www.samknows.com

Tender process
In June 2017, the Commission put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a provider to supply broadband testing and reporting on behalf of the Commission. We received six applications for the contract, with each assessed under the All of Government rules of sourcing, against criteria including value for money, and the quality of the product and service offering. The Commission’s previous broadband testing programme was conducted by TrueNet. That programme had operated since 2012 and concluded earlier this year.

The Commission’s role in telecommunications
As part of our wider role, the Commission monitors the competition, development, and performance of telecommunication markets under section 9A of the Telecommunications Act 2001. The Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework Amendment) Bill currently before Parliament would also require the Commission to specifically monitor retail service quality and provide consumer-friendly information to help consumers make more informed purchasing decisions.

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