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ACMA proposes new rules for broadband service failures

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced today that it will soon consult on rules to assist consumers when their fixed broadband telco fails to meet retail service levels.

On Thursday 20 August 2020, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recommenced its NBN wholesale service standards inquiry. The inquiry has been examining rebates to be made payable by NBN Co to access seekers in connection with failures to meet service levels and the possible pass-through of these rebates to consumers.

The ACMA has been working with the ACCC on the implications of such wholesale rebates at the retail level. We consider it is important that consumers:

  • receive the benefit of rebates paid by NBN Co for wholesale service level failures that affect them
  • can easily access information about retail service level commitments offered by their telco, consistent with the Australian Government’s Consumer Safeguards Review findings.

To achieve these outcomes, the ACMA intends to make rules that will require telcos to:

  • pass on to affected customers any wholesale rebate received from NBN Co, in monetary form or in kind, should a framework for wholesale rebates be implemented
  • clearly spell out the retail service levels they will commit to providing customers, including what they will do for their customers when these levels are not met.

The ACMA wants to provide flexibility for retail providers to offer different retail service levels and to innovate, but with an expectation of transparency so consumers can make informed decisions.

The ACMA expects to begin its public consultation process with a draft legislative instrument and discussion paper later in 2020. The ACMA aims to have new obligations in place at the same time as agreement by telcos with NBN Co’s new Wholesale Broadband Agreement, which implements the wholesale rebate scheme.

 

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