The ACMA recently successfully switched to a new Do Not Call Register provider. This latest refresh of a core ACMA function exemplifies its five year ICT transformation plan to put the agency at the forefront within the Commonwealth of best practice infrastructure, applications, processes and “smart” data.
‘In 2010 we set out to be a leading Commonwealth agency for innovation in ICT,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman, who also referred to the plan in his recent speech at the CommsDay Congress.
‘Five years on, and after three waves of hardware and software changes, our journey is progressing on point and to plan.
‘As a regulatory agency, particularly one active in the communications arena, the ACMA needs to be agile, informed, collaborative and relevant in our deployment and use of ICT. I believe the ACMA’s ICT transformation is fundamentally reinforcing our ability to deliver on our corporate strapline promise—better communication, facilitation and regulation.’
The ACMA’s ICT transformation has taken place in three distinct phases or waves of change:
The first phase, completed in 2012, renewed the ICT infrastructure to deliver lower maintenance costs, higher productivity, improved systems response and application deployment times.
The second wave focused on major core systems and major business projects, the most external-facing of which was the ACMA’s new website. This phase culminated recently with three major ICT rollouts of renewed external-facing ACMA consumer and industry services in as many months.
‘Since August, the ACMA has switched on its new automated numbering allocation and administration system, deployed an enhanced spectrum licensing portal, and moved to a new Do Not Call Register (including a DNCR website that is more attractive, easier to navigate and aligned with our branding),’ Mr Chapman said.
‘And the third wave in our transformation, rolling out against a target date of late 2017, continues this journey. This wave is focused on smart process and data; getting maximum returns on investment from our new systems; and prioritizing information management and data transparency, while supporting migration to cloud-based technology infrastructure and providing a greater emphasis on user training.
‘Earlier this year, the ACMA worked with Nihilent, a global consulting and solutions integration company, to comprehensively review our custom business analysis and project management methodology, with careful benchmarking against successful global organisations and proven practices responsive to the ACMA’s unique needs. This has underpinned the quality of our “solutions delivery”.
‘Overall, the principal aim of the ICT transformation program has been to create a better customer experience for industry, citizens and consumers, with a firm emphasis on user control through appropriate levels of self-service.’
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Media release 57/2015 - 12 November
Key changes delivered from the transformation program to date include:
Do Not Call Register
The Do Not Call Register has recently been completely rebuilt as part of the transition to a new outsourced provider, Salmat. The new register was launched on 21 September and the switchover went according to plan. In the first eight hours alone, more than 2,000 phone numbers were added and call lists containing nearly two million numbers checked (or ‘washed’) by telemarketers against the Do Not Call Register. Post call survey results show customer satisfaction at 92 per cent for the week ending 6 November 2015.
‘As well as a redesigned DNCR website, the new register provides better information to the ACMA about types of telemarketing calls that citizens complain about,’ Mr Chapman said. ‘This will enhance the ACMA’s understanding of the market we are regulating, identify harms, and allow better targeting of compliance and enforcement activities.
‘The Do Not Call Register is one of the more visible and popular of the ACMA’s services, as is obvious from the more than 10 million numbers that have been registered to date,’ said Mr Chapman. ‘The successful switchover to Salmat ensures that it will continue to play an important role in keeping the dinner time of Australians as free as possible from unwanted interruptions.’
Spectrum licensing allocation
Another element of the second phase has only just come to fruition: after a multi-year scoping initiative (Project HELM) for licensing and frequency assignment of spectrum, the ACMA recently moved to a modern system—SPECTRA—that will deliver a reduction in red tape as well as reduced processing time and lowering costs to users of this system.
‘The allocation, variation, transfer or surrender of an apparatus licence, other than a broadcasting apparatus licence, all happens in SPECTRA,’ Mr Chapman said.
‘We have again listened to our industry stakeholders and introduced the ability for them to connect directly to the ACMA systems. SPECTRA represents a significant investment by the ACMA in new infrastructure and a stepping stone on the path to customer self-service. The automation of processing introduced with SPECTRA provides a platform to allow ACMA customers (or their licensed assignors) to connect directly to the ACMA through a B2G (business to government) system and gives them the capacity to manage their own licenses in the way they choose.’
The last phase of Project HELM, the licensing of broadcasting services, is anticipated to be finalised during 2016.
Numbering allocation (The Numbering Work Program)
A new era in telephone numbering began on 3 August when the ACMA’s automated numbering allocation system was switched on. This was the result of a comprehensive review of the regulatory framework for telephone numbers in response to deep changes in industry structures, service offers and consumer behaviour.
One outcome of the Numbering Work Program has been that the ACMA tested the market for the provision of a system to deliver the range of numbering services previously provided by both the ACMA and, for some services, under delegation by an external provider (INMS). Consequent to this market testing, ZOAK Solutions was selected to deliver the ACMA’s automated numbering allocation and administration system, paving the way for a far more efficient, simple and intuitive delivery of Australia’s numbering services.
Feedback from a number of industry participants confirms that this simple and intuitive system provides an outstanding customer experience. One of the many benefits of the new system is that it is significantly easier and faster for business to purchase and trade smartnumbers, which are now available for instant sale without having to wait for the ACMA’s periodic auctions.
‘The outsourcing by the ACMA of its numbering allocation and administration function is a centrepiece of the ACMA’s on-going reform of numbering arrangements and again will deliver significant cost savings to industry,’ Mr Chapman said
Enhanced auction capability
In July, the ACMA selected Power Auctions for the provision of software capability for conducting spectrum auctions.
The first use of this software will be for the upcoming auction of regional 1800 MHz spectrum, scheduled to commence later this month. This auction should facilitate the expansion of 4G mobile broadband services in regional Australia, leading to better mobile services and more choice for regional Australians.
'Spectrum is a finite natural resource and in many bands demand from industry may exceed supply,’ Mr Chapman said. ‘When this happens, the ACMA typically allocates spectrum by auction. This provides a transparent process to establish a market price, ensuring licenses are allocated to those who value them most highly.’
The contract with Power Auctions provides the ACMA with ongoing capacity to conduct online spectrum auctions at short notice, using either the English open outcry or simultaneous multi-round ascending (SMRA) auction methodology. There is also an option to procure other flexible and innovative auction designs as and when required by the ACMA.
Spam compliance and complaints systems
Over the last two years the ACMA has also created a case management and investigation system to streamline Spam compliance and complaints, and a network to allow for the efficient and more secure processing of high risk, prohibited content complaints. Both provide a unified and more efficient approach to complaint and case management, while the online content complaints and investigations network is seen as a world class approach to the automatic capturing of content (and is now being used by the Australian Federal Police for gambling-related investigations).
A ‘one-stop’ Customer Service Centre
The ACMA opened an integrated Customer Service Centre in March 2014, being a practical expression of our identity as a single converged regulator. The Centre was initially positioned as the central point of contact for customers of our Communications Infrastructure Division, but during 2015 we have been working on expanding it to include queries related to the Content, Consumer and Citizen Division—taking calls, emails and web enquiries about anything and everything that comes through the door.
Phase 1 of this expansion project was delivered successfully in July, and the next components of the initiative are on track to deliver a true ‘one-stop’ centre from tomorrow (Friday 13 November).
‘When the ACMA started this project, we identified close to 120 communication channels for the public to use in contacting the agency,’ Mr Chapman said. ‘In 2014 we significantly reduced this number. In 2015 this process is continuing and, when completed, will mean customer contact with the ACMA will be delivered through only five centralised channels: phone, email, fax, web-forms and regular mail.
The centralised customer service delivery model adopted by the ACMA is considered best practice for industry/government and also reduces cost through economies of scale. The benefits include:
- improved accessibility for customers
- improved quality and consistency of response for customers
- ease in recording and reporting contacts
- visibility of customer contact across the organisation
- capacity to set and manage a customer service standard that is consistent across business areas
- ability to add (and subtract) business areas to the arrangement