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Slow internet? Watchdog says ISPs must advertise how fast they really are

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has announced a broadband review, calling on ISPs to give their customers real information about speeds, not just the sexy advertising.

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Georgina Palmer/Getty

Internet service providers, you're on notice: Stop putting pictures of fast athletes on your broadband advertising and tell us how good your service actually is.

That's the call from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which has today announced a review into the advertising and promotion of broadband services and the speeds and performance that ISPs offer their customers.

It's certainly timely for an industry that has seen its fair share of dissatisfaction. In the first quarter of 2016, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman received more complaints about internet services than any other telco service. And in an industry flooded with plenty of plans from big and small providers, a little more clarity could go a long way.

The ACCC argues that ISPs are not giving consumers clear information about broadband speeds and performance when they're advertising plans and services.

"At the moment, it is difficult for consumers to access accurate information as broadband advertising is not focusing upon speed and performance," said ACCC chair Rod Sims.

"Consumers are being presented with little information or vague claims like 'boost' and 'fast', or just pictures in advertising of athletes or animals. Consumers need accurate information about broadband speed and performance so that they can understand if what they are being offered will actually meet their needs."

As part of the review, the ACCC has released a discussion paper calling on the industry to provide input about how consumer information could be improved. Ultimately, the watchdog is aiming to increase competition and get better results for consumers when they're spending money on this modern necessity.