The Australian Communications and Media Authority has approved updated compliance and monitoring arrangements for telecommunications providers under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP Code).
These new arrangements improve the operational effectiveness of the independent industry code compliance body, Communications Compliance Ltd (CommCom), and increase the flexibility in reporting commitments for smaller telecommunications providers.
The current arrangements—outlined in Chapter 9 of the TCP Code—have contributed to improved levels of provider compliance and associated consumer protections since introduction of these rules in 2013.
Chapter 9 sets out how and when providers covered by the TCP Code must demonstrate their compliance annually.
Under the updated arrangements:
- in a new ‘once-only’ requirement, all telecommunications providers that offer services to residential and small business customers, irrespective of whether they have previously lodged documents with CommCom will need to register their details with Communications Alliance Ltd (CA) by 3 May 2016
- smaller providers—those with fewer than 3,000 services in operation (SIO)— will need to lodge annual compliance documents with CommCom by 29 April 2016 or indicate they will defer lodgement to a second registration period ending 1 September 2016
- larger providers—with 3,000 or more SIOs—will be required to lodge annual compliance documents by 1 September each year.
‘As the industry’s compliance improves the code should evolve and adapt,’ said ACMA Acting Chairman, Richard Bean. ‘In particular, this is an opportunity to reduce the reporting burden on smaller providers. This updated compliance and monitoring framework allows for more efficient industry self-regulation—for small and larger providers—while ensuring that all telecommunications providers continue to comply with the TCP Code.’
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Media release 15/2016 - 7 March
The update to Chapter 9 of the TCP Code follows the recent review of Chapters 1-8, which was focussed on consumer information requirements and regulatory duplication. Following that review the ACMA registered the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code C628:2015 on 3 December 2015.
In addition to the new provider registration process and new compliance reporting lodgment dates, the main changes to Chapter 9 of the TCP Code are:
- compliance documentation, which is required to be completed by all providers covered by the TCP Code, has been streamlined
- providers will now be able to attest to ‘partial compliance’ with the TCP Code on condition they also provide Compliance Action Plans (CAPs) to CommCom indicating the areas of non-compliance and plans for achieving full compliance
- greater clarity on timeframes for providers to respond to any compliance requests from CommCom.
Providers covered by the TCP Code should note that Chapter 9 allows for a delay in the first lodgement period to 29 April for 2016 only. From 2017 onwards, CommCom’s first lodgement period will end on 1 April each year (for smaller providers) and the second lodgement period will end on 1 September (for larger providers).