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Australia takes Telstra to court over 'misleading' internet speed claim

(Reuters) -Australian competition regulator on Tuesday took the country's top telecom firm Telstra Corp to court for failing to inform some customers about downgrading the upload speed of its broadband plan.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) initiated the lawsuit in the Federal Court, alleging Telstra downgraded broadband upload speed for nearly 9,000 residential customers in October and November 2020 without informing them or lowering its charges.

While around 2,500 customers were compensated with a one-off A$90 credit after Telstra acknowledged the error in early-2021, it is yet to inform more than 6,300 customers of the downgrade to their maximum upload speed, the ACCC alleged.

The telecom firm in a response to Reuters said it did not agree with the regulator's views, adding it had informed customers and made things "right" whenever their communication with customers had fallen short.

Telstra did not respond to other queries on plans to remediate the remaining customers, as sought by the regulator.

The ACCC alleged that Telstra downgraded upload speed for customers who had opted for a cheaper broadband offering between May 2017 and October 2020, to much lower than what that package promised.

"In these circumstances, we are seeking a court order requiring Telstra to pay compensation to consumers who, we allege, did not get the service they signed up for," ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said.

(Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Rishav Chatterjee; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Uttaresh.V and Nivedita Bhattacharjee)