The Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Annual report 2014–15, tabled today in parliament, offers an in-depth look at the various changes in the ways the ACMA has been working with industry and consumers to deliver strong outcomes and best practice in telecommunication services and relevant consumer protections, spectrum management and broadcast investigations.
The report also marks the ACMA’s 10th anniversary and preparation for a period of self-assessment under the government’s Regulator Performance Framework, which was released in October 2014 and came into effect on 1 July 2015.
‘In 2014–15, the ACMA worked on various changes in the way we interact with business and consumers—such as in the final design of the new Do Not Call Register website and a more efficient numbering allocation system—while also seeing the introduction of streamlined broadcasting and complaints processes,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.
‘New arrangements for mobile calls to 1800 and 13/1300 numbers were introduced, changes were made to customer identity verification for pre-paid mobile services and preparations for a revamped spectrum licensing system successfully entered its second phase. Our Customer Service Centre has also progressed through several more phases of expansion to now encompass most of the ACMA’s many activities.
‘As the ACMA embarks on its second decade and with a mindset of communicating, facilitating and regulating, I’d like to think this reporting period reflects the flexibility and responsiveness to constant change in technology and the comms and media business environment that we have been striving to build from the agency’s inception.’
Another highlight of the year was in some of the legal outcomes we secured, principally the important High Court judgment in favour of the ACMA in the matter of Today FM and the ‘Royal Prank’ broadcast.
‘The finding confirmed that the Authority can take administrative enforcement action against a licensee who uses the broadcasting service in the commission of an offence, without adjudging and punishing criminal guilt,’ Mr Chapman said. ‘It was a strong re-affirmation of what we always considered were important powers and was actually very important in delivering a constructive outcome in the resolution of the licensee’s commitment to compliance.’
Other highlights of the year include:
- Following industry consultation and feedback about enhancing numbering administration, ZOAK Solutions was awarded the contract to provide allocation and administration services for most of Australia’s telephone numbers, complemented by making the Telecommunications Numbering Plan 2015, which provides the automation of numbering transactions. The new system began August 2015.
- Calls to 13/1300 numbers are now charged against the included values allowance of the plan, rather than billed separately.
- Calls to 1800 numbers are now free-of-charge from most mobile operators.
- In October 2014, the ACMA helped facilitate mobile carriers to introduce an improved location service that allows emergency service organisations to obtain access to cell tower—or better location—information during Triple Zero calls.
- Further changes were made in December 2014 to customer identity verification by mobile providers at the time of activation of prepaid services, including:
- confirming a customer’s existing prepaid mobile account
- sighting identification at the mobile provider’s shopfront at the time the service is activated.
Do Not Call Register
- Salmat was contracted to completely re-build the DNCR website, which provides better information to the ACMA about types of telemarketing calls that citizens complain about. The new register launched in September 2015. 660,000 fixed line, mobile and fax numbers were added during the reporting period, making a total of 10.26 million numbers registered as at June 2015.
- From May 2015, registrations became permanent, rather than expiring after eight years.
In November 2014 a portal was established to the ACMA’s Australian Internet Security Initiative (AISI), providing members (140 ISPs as at 30 June 2015, representing 95 per cent of residential internet services) direct access to data about malware infections and services relating to their networks. An average of 106,000 vulnerable IP addresses and 26,645 malware observations were reported per day to members.
From October 2014, the ACMA was given a discretion to investigate complaints about broadcasting matters to improve timeliness and outcomes. This resulted in a reduction in the average time taken to investigate from 3.1 to 2.6 months. Since that period, the ACMA exercised its discretion to investigate 61 valid complaints and declined 35. For the full year 35 investigations resulted in breach findings.
Spectrum management and allocation
- Work continued during the year on a new spectrum licensing and assignment portal, SPECTRA. The second phase went live in September 2015, delivering reductions in red tape, reduced processing time and lowering costs to the customer.
- To expedite the benefit to consumers of the next wave of mobile technology, the ACMA issued Telstra and Optus 24 early access apparatus licences in the 700MHz band, allowing the roll-out of 4G LTE wireless broadband services and equating to approximately $1.3M in fees.
- The reissue process for spectrum licences in the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2.3GHz bands to incumbent and prospective licensees was completed, resulting in approximately $45.5 million in revenue.
- The ACMA continued to facilitate transition in the 400MHz band through carefully targeted stakeholder engagement and a suite of planning, policy and pricing initiatives designed to further the goals of harmonisation and inter-operatively for emergency services.
Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP Code)
- In further support of improving the customer experience with telco service standards, the ACMA continued its program of conducting audits of providers with the TCP Code, resulting in 125 enquires and 20 investigations.
- 42 formal warnings and 16 directions were issued in responses to non-compliance with the TPC Code.
- Four firms were directed to join and one firm to comply with the TIO scheme.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media release 53/2015 - 28 October