ACMA report highlights agency focus on consumer telco problems
The ACMA Annual report
2010-11, tabled in federal parliament today, highlights the agency's
recent focus on issues facing telecommunications consumers.
The ACMA's Reconnecting the Customer public inquiry, launched in
early 2010, reached an important milestone during the year with the release of
the draft inquiry report in June.
'This kind of inquiry was a first for the ACMA-a major and important
activity in its own right-which explored telecommunications customer
service and complaints-handling,' ACMA Deputy Chair, Richard Bean,
'By financial year's end, our draft inquiry report, supported by extensive
research and public submissions, had been released, confirming that there was a
range of problems for consumers, and identifying the key causes of these
problems,' he said.
'The report delivered a multi-layered plan to improve customer service for
Australia's long-suffering telecommunications consumers-a plan to put customers
first and, in no uncertain terms, the telecommunications industry on notice to
lift its game.'
Under the RTC proposals, more than a thousand Australian telecommunications
providers and ISPs will need to deliver on five major consumer protection
measures, while coming under greater regulatory scrutiny by the ACMA.
The ACMA also participated in the review of the Telecommunications Consumer
Protection (TCP) Code, being undertaken by Communications Alliance.
Consultation drafts of the revised code should be released to the public and
provided to the ACMA for registration by the end of the year.
'More generally, the ACMA is taking a more active approach to addressing
consumer issues and complaints,' Mr Bean said. 'This is evident from our new
quarterly consumer bulletin, which reports on a range of initiatives, including
audits and compliance education.'
Two new service provider determinations that came into force early in the
year, giving industry incentives to comply with the Mobile Premium Services
(MPS) Code, have created further protections for telecommunications consumers.
Both were made following consultation with consumer representatives, industry
and other regulators.
'We have closely monitored compliance by with this code and it was very
pleasing to see that the figure for the June quarter of 2011 was the lowest
quarterly figure for mobile premium services complaints to the
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman since the TIO began collecting specific
complaint data on these services almost five years ago,' he said.
A review of the MPS Code also began during the year and a revised draft code
is due to be released for public and industry comment before the end of the
The 2010-11 year was equally challenging and full of progress for the ACMA
in other areas, including much activity in two other consumer-related
spheres-anti-spam and the Do Not Call Register.
Federal Court decisions during the year kept the pressure on industry, with
a penalty of $2 million imposed on the last respondent in the ACMA's first
Federal Court action involving SMS spam. Total penalties in the case were
'This year saw the ACMA experience its highest number of contacts from the
public about spam since the commencement of the Spam Act 2003. A
number of things contributed to this including our ability to generate greater
awareness of the ACMA's role in spam regulation, the success of our Spam SMS
service and the streamlining of methods for reporting spam to the ACMA,' Mr
Enforcement under the Do Not Call Register Act also achieved a milestone,
with the first-ever register-related Federal Court ruling. A penalty of
$120,000 was imposed against a Queensland travel agent, along with injunctions
against it and its sole director.
Listings on the register topped six million while, at the same time, the
total number of complaints about telemarketing calls and marketing faxes rose
significantly compared with the 2009-10 year. This can be attributed in large
part to the ACMA's success in increasing awareness among consumers about how to
register their numbers, complain and report telemarketing scams.
Over the last year, convergence has become part of the
ACMA's core business, influencing many major projects, including spectrum
management and technical regulation, the numbering project, premium SMS,
electronic wallet and mobile applications, the RTC strategy and digital media
'Our experience, and our broad program of research, is informing our
thinking about the policy objectives for regulation in the future and whether
new or different forms of intervention are needed to help Australian citizens
in a converged content environment,' he said.
The ACMA has been contributing to the government's Convergence Review
directly and indirectly, and this will continue to be an important focus during
Another major area of work during the year was telecommunications
numbering, with the release of four separate consultation papers. The
papers examined the underlying structure of the Numbering Plan and several
areas-including VoIP and other broadband-enabled services-where service
evolution is already putting pressure on traditional numbering-based
The next step is to issue a directions paper later in 2011 summarising the
feedback received and identifying possible changes to improve the effectiveness
of the Numbering Plan and related numbering arrangements.
For the digital switchover, the ACMA continued to provide
technical and regulatory advice and information on television coverage. One
critical decision reached during the year was to implement the efficient
'block' planning approach to the replanning (or 'restack') of the digital
Throughout 2010-11, the ACMA also continued its multifaceted television
coverage evaluation program, which identifies transmission infrastructure
issues that would otherwise prevent the transmission of digital television
In spectrum management, the ACMA finished its review of the
400 MHz band, releasing implementation plans and time frames for new
arrangements in the band that, among other things, will reduce congestion,
harmonise government spectrum, and facilitate interoperability between state
and federal government agencies in essential and emergency services. A paper,
The 900 MHz band-Exploring new opportunities, examining new options
for replanning the 900 MHz band was also released.
The ACMA's work on the digital dividend 700 MHz spectrum and the review of
the 2.5 GHz band also came together in late 2010-11 with the announcement of
the first formal steps towards a joint auction of new spectrum licences in both
'This decision reflects the strong complementary nature of the two bands for
advanced mobile telecommunications. At the same time, we released two draft
recommendations on reallocations in these bands-a process that is important in
meeting the community's increasing demand for mobile broadband and opening the
door to new services to be delivered to the public,' Mr Bean said
The ACMA is particularly proud of its important and world-leading work in
cybersafety awareness, which consolidated and grew during
2010-11. The agency extended the leverage of its now well-recognised Cybersmart
brand and continued to roll out its program training teachers, parents and
young people directly.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: Emma Rossi,
Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The ACMA is Australia's regulator for broadcasting, the internet,
radiocommunications and telecommunications. The ACMA's strategic intent is to
make communications and media work in Australia's public interest. For more
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