The ACMA has put in place new rules to make sure that consumers are not left without a working telecommunications service during their migration to the National Broadband Network (NBN). The rules are set out in the Telecommunications Service Provider (NBN Service Migration) Determination 2018 (the Service Migration Determination).
The rules are effective from 21 September 2018.
What is the Service Migration Determination?
Together with the Service Continuity Standard, the Service Migration Determination will minimise the likelihood of consumers being left without a working telecommunications service for extended periods when moving to the NBN. It is part of a package of consumer safeguards designed to protect consumers during their move to and use of the NBN.
What are the key requirements of the Service Migration Determination?
The Service Migration Determination applies to retail and wholesale carriage service providers (CSPs).
Under the requirements of the Service Migration Determination, retail CSPs must:
conduct a post-migration test to determine whether a consumer’s NBN service is working
provide an interim service if a consumer is left without a working telecommunications service during their move to the NBN, unless one of certain limited exceptions applies (see below)
confirm that the underlying network infrastructure used by NBN technologies that use the existing copper network can support the speed tier specified in the plan sold to the consumer and provide remedies if it doesn’t.
Who is covered by the Service Migration Determination?
The Service Migration Determination covers all NBN technology types where the ‘old network’ service is required to be disconnected to connect to the NBN. These technologies are Fibre to the Node (FTTN), Fibre to the Building (FTTB) and Fibre to the Curb (FTTC).
The determination also applies to other technology types in circumstances where the retail CSP providing the NBN service is not the retail CSP that was providing the ‘old network’ service, and either:
the consumer wants to transfer their telephone number from their ‘old network’ service to an NBN service; or
the consumer has requested the ‘old network’ retail CSP to disconnect the ‘old network’ service.
The determination ensures that these consumers aren’t left without a working telecommunications service during their move to the NBN.
What else does the Service Migration Determination require?
Under the determination, retail CSPs are required to perform a post-migration test. This is often done by remotely accessing the modem and does not require the consumer to be home.
A retail CSP may not be able to conduct a post-migration test if a consumer has supplied their own modem instead of using one supplied (and often pre-configured) by the CSP.
It is the CSP’s responsibility to explain to consumers the implications of supplying their own modem before a service contract is entered into. In this instance, the CSP must also advise the consumer that it is their responsibility to inform the retail CSP of any issues with their NBN service.
If post-migration testing shows the service is not working after connection, retail CSPs have three working days to get the NBN service working properly. If they can’t get it working properly in this period, consumers can agree to be supplied with an interim service (for example, a mobile broadband service) or some other arrangement (such as compensation). The retail CSP can only supply an interim service once it has gained consent from the consumer. However, where a retail CSP already supplies a consumer with a ‘backup’ service that provides immediate continuity if an NBN service isn’t working (such as via a dual NBN/mobile network modem), then the new rules won’t require the CSP to provide a separate interim service, or make another arrangement with the consumer. This is because the consumer is already being provided with service continuity as part of their agreement with their CSP.
Where a consumer has agreed to be supplied with an interim service, they won’t pay any more for that interim service than the monthly fee applicable to the lowest speed plan offered by their retail CSP. The retail CSP must also tell the consumer about the key features and limitations of the service, such as the speed of the service and any limits to the amount of data provided, so consumers can make an informed choice about the service.
The retail CSP is prohibited from charging a consumer for their NBN service if it isn’t working. If they’ve issued a consumer with a bill for the NBN service in advance, they must provide a refund or credit for that amount.
After the consumer and retail CSP have agreed on an interim service, it must be supplied to the consumer within:
three working days if the consumer is located in an urban area
four working days if the consumer is located in a major rural area
six working days if the consumer is located in a minor rural or a remote area.
If an interim service is not performing as expected, the retail CSP must take all reasonable steps to improve the service to the reasonable satisfaction of the consumer.
If the interim service cannot be improved, the retail CSP must negotiate an alternative arrangement with the consumer.
Under the Service Migration Determination, a CSP must supply a consumer with an interim service until their NBN service is working.
Where there is an unreasonable delay in getting an NBN service working, the retail CSP must, after 20 working days, develop a plan aimed at getting the service working as soon as possible, and provide the consumer with a copy of the plan.
Where that plan doesn’t result in getting the service working within a further 20 working days, the retail CSP will need to undertake a technical audit of the connection.
Once a consumer’s NBN service is determined as operational, for NBN technologies that use the existing copper network, the retail CSP must then confirm the maximum speed that the consumer’s NBN service can achieve. This process is called line-capability assessment.
If the line-capability assessment indicates that the consumer is not able to receive the maximum speed specified in their contract, the CSP must let the consumer know:
what the maximum speed is that they can receive
that they are able, at no cost to them, to move to a lower speed plan at a lower price, which reflects the speeds that they can receive
that they can exit the contract with their retail CSP at no cost.
Consumers cannot be billed by their NBN retail CSP for their service if they aren’t receiving the maximum speed specified in their consumer contract, unless 10 working days have passed since the NBN retail CSP notified the consumer of the outcome of the line-capability test.