Telstra, Optus and TPG Telecom were penalised for misleading internet customers about the actual speeds they could deliver using the country’s national broadband network (NBN), after admitting their actions breached consumer law.

Separate legal cases filed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) resulted in Telstra being fined AUD15 million ($9.7 million), Optus AUD13.5 million and TPG Telecom AUD5 million.

In a statement, the ACCC explained the operators promised subscribers on 50Mb/s or 100Mb/s fibre plans they would be notified in “a reasonable timeframe” if the speeds they were paying for could not be reached on their NBN connections.

If the customers couldn’t achieve the advertised maximum speeds, the operators also offered to move them to lower-tier plans with a refund.

Telstra, Optus, and TPG Telecom acknowledged they didn’t have adequate systems and policies in place to ensure they could deliver on the promises.

Nearly 120,000 consumers were affected over a more than 12-month period in 2019 and 2020.

ACCC commissioner Liza Carver stated “consumers need accurate information when choosing the best internet plan to meet their needs”.

She added the “significant penalties reflect the seriousness of the breaches of consumer laws” by the operators, which “should be better informed about their obligations towards their customers”.

ACCC noted the operators had contacted customers to provide refunds.