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Action on telco consumer protections: January to March 2020

Launch

We launched our first interactive report on how telcos are handling complaints.

Launch

We released the first telco sector financial hardship report.

 

Launch

We registered the Integrated Public Number Database Industry Code to improve the quality of record keeping.

Launch

We made the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Amendment Determination 2020 (No.1).

We completed 5 telco investigations. We gave a remedial direction to 1 telco and are finalising enforcement outcomes on 4 others.

We completed 30 compliance assessments—7 related to compliance with the NBN consumer experience rules.

We held a workshop with mobile carriers about identifying SIM-less calls to Triple Zero.

Launch

We released our annual Compliance Priorities for 2020–21.

Complaint handling report

The dashboard shows how telcos managed customer complaints against key performance measures. It also allows comparisons across:

  • data from the September 2018 to December 2019 quarters
  • different services, including:
    • mobile
    • NBN broadband
    • NBN voice-only
    • other fixed-line broadband
    • other fixed-line voice services.

‘State of play’ report (financial hardship)

We published a ‘State of play’ report on how telcos deal with consumer financial hardship.

The report showed:

  • 36,500 consumers entered a financial hardship arrangement in the 2018 to 2019 financial year.
  • At year’s end, around 10,000 customers remained on these arrangements.  
  • The outstanding debt totalled $5.71 million.
  • More than three-quarters of this debt related to mobile phone services.

Industry Code C555:2020 Integrated Public Number Database (IPND)

We registered a revised IPND Code (Industry Code C555:2020 Integrated Public Number Database) to help improve the quality of IPND records. The changes require telcos to review monthly IPND reports. They also must reconcile their customer and IPND records every six months.

Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2019

We registered the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Amendment Determination 2020 (No.1) to resolve 2 minor issues:

  • the incorporation of documents by reference, which are not available to the public
  • the use of ‘no-invalidity’ clauses.

Compliance with NBN consumer experience rules

We completed investigations into the compliance of 4 providers with NBN service continuity rules.

We started an audit into 6 providers’ compliance under NBN service continuity rules for parallel migrations. We will check if post-migration testing was done and numbers ported properly.

We also:

  • Commenced a compliance assessment of the NBN Service Migration Determination.
  • Completed an audit of 4 providers’ compliance under the Complaints Handling Standard.
  • Concluded 2 compliance assessments into the NBN Consumer Information Standard.

Figure 1: Completed compliance activities (NBN consumer experience rules)

Figure 1

Completed investigations and enforcement actions

Table 1: Investigation outcomes in the quarter (NBN consumer experience rules)

Provider*

Details

Provisions investigated

Enforcement outcome

Provisions of the Telecommunications (NBN Continuity of Service) Industry Standard 2018, the Telecommunications Service Provider (NBN Service Migration) Determination 2018 and the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Telecommunications Act)

4 NBN carriage service providers

Failure to comply with rules about:

  • interim services
  • record keeping
  • preparing remedial plans and technical audits for non-working NBN services.

The investigations into these 4 providers have concluded with breach findings. Enforcement action is being determined.

 

To be determined.

* The ACMA does not generally publish the names of entities that have not been found in breach, or where enforcement actions have not been finalised or published.

Other telco compliance activities

  • We started 13 investigations into requirements to join and comply with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) scheme.
  • We commenced 1 investigation into compliance with the prepaid identity checking determination.
  • We started an investigation into a public number directory publisher’s compliance with the Telecommunications IPND Scheme.
  • We commenced 12 assessments of telco compliance with selling practices and financial hardship requirements under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code.
  • We began 10 assessments of telcos joining and complying with the TIO scheme.
  • We finalised an investigation into telco compliance with the TIO scheme.
  • We completed 24 assessments of telco compliance with:
    • the TCP Code’s financial hardship rules (7)
    • the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection & Service Standards) Act 1999 (TCPSS Act) requirement to comply with the TIO scheme (12)
    • the TCPSS Act requirement to join the TIO scheme (4)
    • the Mobile Premium Services Code’s usage alert rules (1).

Figure 2: Completed compliance activities (other than for NBN consumer experience rules)

Figure 2

 

 

Finalised investigations and enforcement actions

Provider*

Details

Provisions investigated

Enforcement outcome

Provisions of the Telecommunications Act and the TCPSS Act

Unnamed provider

 

TCPSS Act— compliance with the TIO scheme.

Subsection 101(1) and clause 1(1) of Schedule 2 to the Telecommunications Act—failing to comply with the TIO scheme as required by section 132 of the TCPSS Act.
 

Remedial direction issued on 29 January 2020.

* The ACMA does not generally publish the names of entities that have not been found in breach, or where enforcement actions have not been finalised or published.

Rule-making activities

Our consultation on proposed revisions to the NBN consumer experience rules closed on 31 January 2020. 8 submissions were received from industry (Communications Alliance, NBN Co, Optus, Telstra and TPG), ACCAN, the TIO and the ACCC. Additional consultation on further drafts of the Service Continuity Standard and Service Migration Determination was deferred due to the impact of COVID-19.

Triple Zero SIM-less calls workshop

On 22 January 2020, the ACMA held a SIM-less workshop with representatives from Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and the Emergency Call Person for ‘000’ and ‘112’ (Telstra).

The workshop focused on industry working together to help identify SIM-less calls to Triple Zero. Further work has been deferred due to the impact of COVID-19.

Compliance priorities for 2020 to 2021

We released our 2020 to 2021 compliance priorities. Our telco priorities are:

  • Protecting telco customers by fostering responsible approaches to selling, credit assessment and financial hardship. We will focus on how telcos interact with disadvantaged and vulnerable people.
  • A better move to the NBN. We want to make the transition as easy as possible for households and small businesses moving their phone and internet to services delivered over the NBN.
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