The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will impose new rules on telcos to significantly improve the consumer experience in moving to the National Broadband Network (the network).
‘We have had strong concerns for some time about how telcos are helping consumers move to the new network,’ said ACMA Chair, Nerida O’Loughlin. ‘These concerns have been borne out by our recent analysis of industry’s own data.
‘This evidence—and the rapid increase in complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman—shows that many telcos are not stepping up to get the right information to consumers and resolve migration issues quickly and effectively.’
The ACMA’s analysis shows that for the three months to 30 June 2017:
on average, complaints about faults took up to 19 calendar days to resolve, whereas complaints about connection issues took up to 28 calendar days to resolve
on average, it took up to 45 calendar days for customers to have their old voice and data services moved across to the network.
‘Industry co-regulatory arrangements are not serving consumers well in a number of important areas. As a result, the ACMA will make new mandatory rules to require telcos to improve their performance in these areas,’ said Ms O’Loughlin.
The new rules will:
specify the minimum information that telcos must provide about their network services before they sign consumers up
specify minimum standards for telcos’ complaints-handling processes and a requirement for telcos to report their complaint numbers to the ACMA so that changes can be monitored
require telcos to ‘line test’ new services on the network to ensure that lines are working and that faults are identified early
require consumers to be reconnected to legacy network services, if that fall-back is needed until their new network service is successfully connected.
‘The rollout of the new network presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve broadband services for all Australians. We think it is high time that telcos stepped up to help consumers migrate seamlessly so that they can make the most of that opportunity,’ Ms O’Loughlin said.
The new rules, unlike co-regulatory industry codes, will be immediately and directly enforceable by the ACMA. If a telco breaches an industry standard, the ACMA can commence court proceedings seeking remedies such as injunctions and civil penalties of up to $250,000. For breaching a service provider rule, the maximum civil penalty a court can impose is $10 million. There are no pecuniary penalties for breaching an industry code.
‘While these new rules focus on Retail Service Providers, we welcome work by the ACCC looking at wholesale service standards on the network,’ Ms O’Loughlin said.
Further information on the ACMA’s proposed new rules are here. Consultation on the detail of the new rules will commence in early 2018, with new rules in place by 1 July 2018.
Media contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media release 44/2017 - 21 December