Mass service disruptions under the CSG Standard | ACMA

Mass service disruptions under the CSG Standard

The Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) Standard outlines minimum performance standards for the connection and fault repair of standard telephone services. Providers of standard telephone services must connect and repair these services within the timeframes outlined in the CSG Standard. Failure to do so will mean the provider is generally liable to automatically pay compensation to the affected customer. 

A mass service disruption (MSD) is declared where mass outages have occurred due to extreme weather conditions or other factors beyond a provider’s control. 

While this fact sheet explains the exemption provisions of the CSG Standard and the notification requirements for claiming a valid exemption, it is not intended as a definitive guide for compliance with the CSG Standard. Providers should obtain independent advice on their telecommunications regulatory obligations.

Exemptions from the CSG Standard

There are a number of situations where a provider may claim an exemption from complying with the performance standards specified in the CSG Standard. These include:

  • where the provider supplies the customer with more than five eligible standard telephone services
  • where the provider is undertaking maintenance on or upgrading its telecommunications network and it has given the customer reasonable notice of the maintenance or upgrade
  • in certain circumstances where the customer has a bad credit history
  • in situations where circumstances beyond the control of the provider prevent it from complying with performance standards (see section 21 of the CSG Standard).

Where an exemption impacts a large area or large number of services, it may be called an MSD.

Mass service disruptions due to extreme weather

Providers can claim an exemption for circumstances beyond their control when extreme weather events cause a significant number of faults to services in an area or prevent the timely connection of services in an area. 

Under the CSG Standard exemption provisions, where a provider is claiming an exemption from a performance standard as a result of extreme weather conditions, it must include evidence in writing that these conditions meet one or more of the criteria of extreme weather conditions specified in Schedule 3 of the CSG Standard.

Notifying customers of an exemption

If a provider is claiming an exemption from the CSG Standard, it must notify affected customers. Providers have two options for this:

  1. Notifying all customers in an affected area by publishing a notice in a newspaper with daily circulation in that state and on its website.
  2. Individually notifying customers of the exemption that is impacting their service.

Publishing a notification

The CSG Standard outlines content and notification timeframe requirements for exemption notifications to affected customers.

Content

A public notice must include the following:

  • a statement indicating that the provider is claiming an exemption from the CSG Standard
  • the circumstances that have resulted in the provider claiming an exemption (for example, damage to a facility or extreme weather events)
  • the telephone numbers of affected services
  • an estimate of the number of affected services
  • a description of the area bounded by the exemption claim
  • a unique identifier for the exemption
  • if the exemption relates to an extreme weather event, evidence in writing must be included in the notice
  • a statement indicating that affected customers can dispute the exemption claim with the provider and theTIO (if the provider does not adequately resolve the customer’s concerns)
  • contact information for the provider.

The content requirements for individual notices are generally the same as mass service disruption notices, although they do not have to include details about the number of services affected or the area impacted by the exemption.

Timeframes

Mass service disruption notices (public exemption notifications):

  • Within eight working days of the start of the exemption, a copy of the notice must be given to the ACMA and Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and published on the provider’s website.
  • Within nine working days of the start of the exemption, a copy of the notice must be published in a newspaper with daily circulation in the affected area.
  • Within nine working days of the start of the exemption, a copy of the notice must be given to any resellers that provide resale services.

If a provider is claiming an exemption on the basis that it is reselling services and its wholesale provider has given it notice of an exemption, the provider must give a copy of the notice to the ACMA and TIO and publish the notice in a newspaper with daily circulation and on its website within two working days of receiving the exemption notice. It is sufficient for the provider (reseller) to refer to the notice published by the wholesale supplier; however, other content and notification requirements still apply.

Individual notifications:

  • A written statement must be given to the affected customer within 10 working days of the exemption commencing. Individual notifications do not need to be given to the ACMA or TIO. 

Notice of exemptions must be emailed to the following email address telephone.service.regulation@acma.gov.au.

As well as the notice content requirements, providers must indicate the date and name of the publication in which a notice has been published.

Disputing an exemption

Customers can contact their provider (or the TIO if dissatisfied with the provider’s response) to dispute the circumstances of an exemption claim. Failing to comply with the requirements of the CSG may invalidate an exemption claim. The provider may also be liable to pay compensation to any customer whose service was not connected or repaired within the CSG Standard timeframes during the exemption period.

The ACMA’s role

While the ACMA has a role in enforcing compliance with the CSG Standard, it does not approve or verify the circumstances for mass service disruptions. The ACMA does enforce compliance with the content and notification requirements for mass service disruption notes. It also reports aggregated statistics on the use of mass service disruption exemptions in its annual communications report.

Further information 

For further information about mass service disruptions please contact the ACMA's Customer Service Centre on 1300 850 115 or info@acma.gov.au.

Last updated: 07 December 2015