SingTel Optus misled Australian broadband users

Joe Schneider

SingTel Optus Pty Ltd. misled Australians with advertisements touting the company’s broadband speeds and data plans, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said.

The commission sued SingTel Optus, a unit of Southeast Asia’s biggest phone operator Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., in the Federal Court of Australia today, seeking to stop SingTel Optus from running the ads, force it to advertise corrections and pay fines.

The company’s advertisements fail to inform customers of limitations on promised download speeds, the lawsuit claims. In its “Think Bigger” campaign, SingTel Optus advertises a 120- gigabyte plan for A$49.99 ($45.50) a month, while the “Supersonic” broadband campaign promises download speeds four times faster than SingTel’s original plan.

“Once the customer exceeds the peak data allowance, the internet connection is limited to speed of 64 kbps,” the commission said in a statement today. “The ACCC alleges that Optus did not sufficiently or clearly disclose, and in some cases did not disclose at all, these qualifications.”

The lawsuit will proceed quicker than usual, having been placed on the court’s “fast track” list, the commission said. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 16, the agency said.

Singtel Optus will work with the competition commission to resolve its concerns, the company said in an e-mailed statement.

“We go to great length to offer the best products and services to our customers and to explain the value of those offers clearly,” Singtel Optus said.

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