Complaints about confusing broadband plans have led to telcos introducing “offer summaries” to help consumers compare broadband plans.

The summaries contain basic information on costs and contract terms. They're intended to make it easier for consumers to compare broadband plans from different providers.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams told the industry in 2012 that it needed to make broadband offers easier to understand. The Telecommunications Forum (TCF) has responded by introducing a requirement for its members to publish offer summaries.

The move is a step forward but there’s room for improvement. A group of Consumer NZ staff rated the offer summaries provided by four telcos. Most of the group felt the summaries might be helpful in choosing a plan but the task wasn’t as easy as it could be because there were “so many variations between plans”. Some also had difficulty identifying whether a home phone line was included with one broadband offer or whether it was an extra cost.

Across the Tasman, telcos have been required to provide information summaries for all their offerings – not just broadband – since March 2013. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which monitors compliance, has so far issued five formal warnings to companies for failing to meet the disclosure standards.

Back here, the industry remains self-regulating. It will be up to individual telcos to “self-certify” they’re compliant with the TCF’s offer-summary requirements. Companies which don’t belong to the TCF – mostly smaller players – can opt out completely.

Offer summaries are being provided by Compass Communications, Orcon, Snap, Telecom, Vodafone and Woosh.