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Action on telco safeguards: October to December 2018

Completed 38 investigations  Completed 38 investigations of compliance with the ACMA’s new Complaints-handling Standard, resulting in enforcement action against 31 providers—including issuing four remedial directions and 27 formal warnings.

Conducted an audit Conducted an audit of 25 providers’ compliance relating to providing Key Facts Sheets and advertising NBN plans under the ACMA’s new Consumer Information Standard.

Following investigations  Following investigations into TPG/PIPE Networks’ compliance with the new Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment Code, the ACMA issued a direction to comply to PIPE Networks. The code requires mobile providers to consult local councils and communities before deploying mobile phone infrastructure.

Accepted an enforceable undertaking  Accepted an enforceable undertaking from Telstra to improve the delivery of the Triple Zero emergency call service, following an ACMA investigation in the second half of 2018.

The ACMA's key telco  The ACMA’s key telco consumer advisory group—the Consumer Consultative Forum—discussed consumer priorities for 2019.

New NBN consumer rules

Complaints-handling Standard—outcomes of investigations

We completed 38 investigations into telco complaints-handling processes. Four telcos were issued with remedial directions, and 27 were given formal warnings. Three providers contravened the standard, but no enforcement action was taken. Four providers did not breach the complaints-handling rules.

Telcos given a remedial direction to comply:

  • Australia Broadband Pty Ltd
  • Flip TV Pty Limited
  • OzTalk Communications Pty Ltd
  • Simply NBN Pty Ltd

Telcos given a formal warning:

  • ACN Pacific Pty Ltd
  • Amnet Broadband Pty Ltd
  • Astron Communication and Information Services Pty Ltd
  • Aussie Broadband Pty Ltd
  • Australian Phone and Internet Pty Ltd
  • Australian Private Networks Pty Ltd
  • BVivid Pty Ltd
  • Dodo Services Pty Ltd
  • Engin Pty Limited
  • Exetel Pty Ltd
  • Foxtel Management Pty Ltd
  • Fuzenet Pty Ltd
  • iiNet Limited
  • Intelico Pty Ltd
  • Internode Pty Ltd
  • M2 Commander Pty Ltd
  • My Net Fone Australia Pty Ltd
  • MyRepublic Pty Ltd
  • Primus Telecommunications Pty Ltd
  • Singtel Optus Pty Ltd
  • SpinTel Pty Ltd
  • Tangerine Telecom Pty Ltd
  • Telstra Corporation Limited
  • TPG Internet Limited
  • Vividwireless Pty Ltd
  • Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd
  • WestNet Pty Ltd

Consumer Information Standard—audit of providers’ compliance

In November and December 2018, we conducted an audit of 25 providers’ compliance with minimum requirements in the new NBN Consumer Information Standard for Key Facts Sheets and advertising.
These rules came into effect on 21 September 2018 and require providers to give consumers information to assist in choosing a suitable NBN plan.
While the audit focused on residential fixed-line plans, it also looked at small business, fixed wireless and satellite plans for NBN services. We selected providers to audit based on their market presence, number of NBN consumer complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and their compliance history.

Preliminary audit findings

Preliminary findings of the audit identified the following issues.
Key Facts Sheets:

  • not being clear, accurate and/or up-to-date
  • listing plans for NBN services without advising speed tiers
  • not including actions that consumers can take to help maximise internet speeds
  • not stating that an advertised speed tier (for example, NBN25 at 25 Mbps) is the maximum possible speed during off-peak times

Advertisements:

  • not including the relevant hours for peak times where NBN service speeds may be reduced due to congestion (7 pm–11 pm for residential plans and 9 am–5 pm for business plans)
  • using standard speed labels, but not including label definitions or usage guidance for online activities at that speed
  • using standardised speed labels (such as those described in the ACCC’s Broadband Speed Claims: Industry guidance), but the definitions not being prominent or close to where those labels are used

Figure 1: Compliance issues identified in Consumer Information Standard audit

Figure 1 Compliance issues identified in Consumer Information Standard audit

Next steps

As a result of the audit, we identified areas of potential non-compliance with the standard. We have also identified a small number of providers that did not have a Key Facts Sheet for one or more of the NBN plans listed on their website. Our next steps will potentially include investigations and, where contraventions of the standard are found, enforcement action. In line with usual practice, the ACMA proposes to publish any enforcement action taken against individual telcos that are found to have contravened NBN Consumer Information Standard.

Other telco safeguards

While the enforcement of rules that protect consumers as they migrate to services on the NBN is a key priority for the ACMA in 2018–19, we continue to undertake compliance actions, assessments and investigations to uncover and address serious or systemic compliance issues related to other important telco consumer safeguards. The ACMA does not generally publish the names of entities that have not breached the rules, or where enforcement actions have not been finalised.

Mobile phone base station deployments
We finalised two investigations into PIPE Networks’ compliance with the Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment Code. As a result of the investigations, we issued a direction to comply with provisions of the code to PIPE Networks.

Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2009
We commenced an investigation in May 2018 into a disruption to the emergency call service which occurred on 4 May 2018. The investigation found that Telstra contravened section 22 of the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2009 in respect of 1433 attempted calls to Triple Zero. On 19 October 2018 the ACMA accepted an enforceable undertaking from Telstra in response to the contravention in which Telstra has committed to improving the redundancy and diversity of its network, developing new communications protocols to be used in the event of another emergency service disruption, and benchmarking its systems against international best practice.

Enforcement outcomes

Organisation Outcome Actions

PIPE Networks Pty Ltd (subsidiary of TPG)

Direction

Direction to comply with new rules for small mobile phone base stations in the Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment Industry Code.

Telstra Corporation Limited

Enforceable undertaking

Telstra has committed to improving the redundancy and diversity of its network, developing new communications protocols to be used in the event of another emergency service disruption, and benchmarking its systems against international best practice.

Finalised investigations

Organisation* Outcome Details

Alphacall Pty Ltd

Breach of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999

Failure to join the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) scheme

Not specified

No breach finding after investigation of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999

Compliance with the TIO scheme

Not specified

No breach of the Telecommunications Act 1997

Priority assistance information obligations

Not specified

No breach of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code

Selling practices obligations in the Telecommunications Code

Consultations

Consumer Consultative Forum meeting
The ACMA appointed eight new consumer organisation members to its Consumer Consultative Forum (CCF) in September 2018. The CCF is the ACMA’s key communications consumer advisory group. It brings together key stakeholders, including consumer organisations, the communications industry and government to raise and discuss important issues affecting users of communications services.

The new CCF met on 9 November 2018. New members outlined their key consumer priorities and the CCF commenced planning its work program for 2019. 

Two items were discussed in detail: 

  • the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code review
  • the review of the Telecommunications(Emergency Call Service) Determination 2009.

The Emergency Call Service Determination
A review of the Telecommunications(Emergency Call Service) Determination 2009 commenced in August 2018. A consultation paper was released in October 2018. A draft determination will be released for comment in early 2019.

 

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