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Action on telco consumer protections: October to December 2020

 

Key actions

Investigation

We started 8 investigations – 4 related to the porting of numbers, 2 related to the NBN service continuity rules.

Investigation

We completed 8 telco investigations. We gave a formal warning to one telco.

Investigation

We commenced 52 compliance assessments and completed 36. 31 related to compliance with the key facts sheet requirements in the NBN Consumer Information Standard.

Notices issued

We issued notices to 10 telcos for information about their compliance with rules for dealing with vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers.

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We revised the NBN consumer experience rules to expand the number of protections and make the rules clearer and more flexible.

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We registered a new version of the Emergency Call Service Requirements Industry Code.

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We released a report on how telcos support and assist law enforcement and national security agencies.

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We updated the online guide on telco record-keeping and complaints-handling rules.

Meeting

We held a meeting of the Consumer Consultative Forum.

Telco compliance activities: 2020–21 compliance priorities

Protecting telco customers

We sent notices to a number of telcos to collect information about their compliance with the rules for dealing with disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers.

We started 12 compliance assessments under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code rules. These related to responsible selling practices and dealing with consumer advocates.

We completed one of these compliance assessments.

We also finalised one investigation into compliance with the TCP code rules on responsible selling and customer transfer obligations.

A better move to the NBN

We started 2 investigations and commenced 36 compliance assessments. Of these, 31 related to compliance with NBN Consumer Information Standard and 5 related to the NBN service continuity rules.

We completed 2 compliance assessments under the NBN service continuity rules and 31 compliance assessments under the NBN Consumer Information Standard.

We also finalised one investigation into compliance with the NBN service continuity rules.

Mobile porting fraud (scams)

We monitor industry compliance with the identity verification rules in the Pre-Porting Identity Verification Standard. These rules are intended to help prevent mobile number fraud and associated identity theft.

We commenced 3 investigations into compliance with these rules.

Other telco compliance activities

We started 3 investigations into telco compliance with:

  • Telecommunications (Consumer Protection & Service Standards) Act 1999 (TCPSS Act) rules on joining and complying with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) scheme (2)
  • local number portability obligations in the Telecommunications Numbering Plan 2015 and the Local Number Portability Industry Code (1).

We finalised 5 investigations into telco compliance with the TIO scheme and one investigation into the Complaints Handling Standard.

We began 4 compliance assessments into telco compliance with:

  • the Complaints Handling Standard (2)
  • Telecommunications Act 1997 (Telecommunications Act) rules on connecting premises on reasonable request by a carriage service provider (1)
  • TCPSS Act rules on complying with the TIO scheme (1)

We completed 2 compliance assessments into telco compliance with:

  • TCPSS Act rules on complying with the TIO scheme (1)
  • TCPSS Act rules on joining the TIO scheme (1)

Completed compliance activities

Figure 1

Finalised investigations and enforcement actions

Provider*

Details

Provisions investigated

Enforcement outcome

 

Provisions of the Complaints Handling Standard

 

JP Forinton & The Wildcatters t/a J2 Net

Complaints Handling Standard

  • Paragraph 7(1)(a) – failing to establish a complaints-handling process that includes the minimum requirements.
     

Formal warning issued for breach findings.

 

Provisions of the NBN Service Continuity Rules

 

Unnamed provider*

NBN Service Continuity Standard

  • Subsection 7(1) – Take all reasonable steps to manage NBN migration with minimum disruption to a customer’s service continuity.
  • Paragraph 7(2)(a) – For a parallel migration, not disconnect legacy service until post-migration testing indicates the NBN service is operating.
  • Section 11 – Supply a legacy service to consumer’s premises if NBN service is not operating within three days.

No enforcement outcome due to no breach finding.

 

 

NBN Service Migration Determination

  • Subsection 7(2) – Perform post-migration testing.
     

 

 

Provisions of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code

Solo Network Pty Ltd (Solo Network)

TCP Code –responsible selling and customer transfer obligations

 

  • Paragraph 4.5.1(a) – Ensure sales representatives promote and sell in a fair, transparent, responsible and accurate manner to assist consumers in making informed purchasing decisions.
  • Paragraph 9.1.1(a) – Obtain (as gaining supplier) consent from consumer for transfer of services.
  • Clause 9.7.1 –Create and retain auditable records establishing transfers.

Breach findings but no enforcement outcome as Solo Network no longer acting as a carriage service provider.

Provisions of the Telecommunications Act and the TCPSS Act

Red Telecom

(4 investigations)

 

TCPSS Act – compliance with the TIO scheme

  • Section 132 of the TCPSS Act – Fail to comply with the TIO scheme as required.

No enforcement outcome.

Investigations closed with no further action due to company going into liquidation.

Solo Network

TCPSS Act – compliance with the TIO scheme

  • Section 132 of the TCPSS Act – Fail to comply with the TIO scheme.

Breach findings but no enforcement outcome as Solo Network no longer acting as a carriage service provider.

* 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.

Emergency Call Service Requirements Code

We registered a new version of the Emergency Call Service Requirements Code. The code includes modest updates to align it with the Emergency Call Service Determination.

The code deals with how the emergency call service operates and requires telcos to ensure:

  • people have access to the emergency call service in an emergency or where a response is required from an emergency service organisation
  • what carriers and CSPs need to do in relation to the emergency call service are clearly documented and understood
  • public understanding and appropriate use of the emergency call service is promoted
  • relevant parties communicate effectively where technical issues affect the operation of the emergency call service.

Rule-making activities

Revised NBN consumer experience rules

On 16 October 2020, we made enhancements to the NBN consumer experience rules.

The enhancements expand the number of businesses protected by the rules. They also make the rules clearer and more flexible for telco providers without sacrificing important consumer safeguards.

The enhancements to the Service Continuity Standard and Service Migration Determination started on 14 December 2020, while most enhancements to the Complaints Handling Standard and Consumer Information Standard will start on 1 April 2021.

Consultation on proposed service standards for superfast fixed broadband services

On 10 November 2020, we began a consultation on proposed service standards for superfast fixed broadband services. Submissions closed on 9 December 2020.

Consultation on sunset review of mobile premium services (MPS) determinations

On 30 November 2020, we began a consultation on a proposal to allow the current mobile premium service determinations to cease. Submissions closed on 17 January 2021.

Report: Telecommunications law enforcement and national security obligations: Monitoring industry performance 2019–20

This report looks at how telcos supported and assisted law enforcement and national security agencies in 2019–20. It provides information on the cost of compliance with the requirements of Part 14 of the Telecommunications Act and the data retention regime.

This report is made under the statutory requirements of subsection 105(5A) of the Telecommunications Act.

Updates to online information

We updated guidance for telcos who are required to record and report complaints to the ACMA under the Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints) Record-Keeping Rules 2018.

The guidance now offers practical examples to help telcos understand the records they need to keep and how to calculate services in operation and complaints for reporting. We’ve included troubleshooting tips for lodging reports.

We have also updated our online information for telcos on the rules for handling complaints.

Consumer Consultative Forum meeting

The ACMA’s consumer advisory group, the Consumer Consultative Forum, met online on 12 October 2020. Issues discussed by key consumer, industry and government stakeholders included:

  • the impact of COVID-19 on telecommunications services
  • the impact of the 2019–20 summer bushfires on telecommunications networks
  • consumer vulnerability.
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