The ACMA will impose new rules on telcos to significantly improve the consumer experience in moving to the National Broadband Network (the network). Consultation on the detail of the new rules will commence in early 2018, with the rules in place by 1 July 2018.
Better managing complaints
All carriage service providers (CSPs) providing telecommunications services to consumers and small businesses will be required to comply with complaints-handling rules stipulating time frames for response and resolution, under a new industry standard. These rules will be based on existing measures in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, but will also contain additional provisions. These provisions will ensure upstream providers such as wholesalers, other intermediaries and NBN Co provide reasonable assistance to RSPs to resolve customer complaints.
CSPs will be required to provide complaint data on a quarterly basis to the ACMA, under a new Record-keeping Rule. These will be published in a comparable form across the industry such as a League Table or ‘Complaints in Context’ (complaints per 10,000 services) report. It will be based on an existing industry practice but will mandate broader participation across the industry. This rule will draw attention to both whole-of-industry and individual providers’ complaint performance, and enable the ACMA to monitor complaint levels.
Improving consumer information
Consumer Information Standard
RSPs will be required to provide consumers with network-specific information in a standardised format detailing all relevant issues when migrating to the network, under a new network-specific Consumer Information Standard. This must include details about the speeds to be delivered, technical limitations such as power outages, the technology on which the service is to be delivered, exit provisions when services are not as advertised and what information will be provided in the event of a network outage.
Noting there are some existing provisions in the TCP Code about consumer information, we intend to work with industry and consumers to ensure that these rules are enhanced. The new rule will require information to be about services delivered over the NBN, and simplified to ensure no duplication or confusion across codes and standards.
Service quality and continuity
NBN Connection Assurance Standard
RSPs will be required to undertake measures to maintain service continuity when consumers are migrating to the new network, under a new NBN Connection Assurance Standard. In cases where a service cannot be delivered on the network, all parties are to work effectively together to ensure that a consumer’s legacy service is reconnected in a reasonable time. This standard will take into consideration the existing ‘cease-sale’ arrangements.
Service Provider Rule for RSP line-testing
RSPs will be required to undertake post-connection line-testing to proactively identify faults and ensure services are working after installation, under a new Service Provider Rule. This would be part of the installation process and would not require the customer’s active involvement.
The rule may also include an obligation for an RSP to perform a line test at the customer’s request to gain accurate information about the speed their premises is receiving. This new rule would buttress the ACCC’s existing activities in place through the Broadband Monitoring Program and industry guidance.
We have received feedback that modem and router quality can affect and reduce internet speeds. We are proposing to further explore modem quality issues and assess whether there is a need for further interventions.
We will continue our research program to monitor the Australian consumer experience before, during and after migration to the network, across the range of technologies being deployed.