The Australian Communications and Media Authority has released a final set of new rules requiring telcos to help their customers move smoothly to the National Broadband Network.
“These new rules will give consumers greater confidence that their telco will make sure their new NBN service will work as expected and provide options if their connection doesn’t work,” said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin.
The new rules will be directly enforceable by the ACMA and, where breaches are found, allow the regulator to commence court proceedings seeking remedies such as injunctions and civil penalties of up to A$10 million.
The ACMA said its research had found that almost one in six households moving to an NBN service was left without a working connection for more than a week. “For almost one in 10 households, the interruption was for more than two weeks,” it added, noting that the new ACMA rules will require telcos to:
- conduct a line test to check their customer’s new NBN service is working after installation
- verify that any existing copper line used to connect a customer to their new NBN service is capable of delivering the maximum data speed specified in their chosen plan
- offer an interim service or make another acceptable arrangement to customers where their new NBN service is not working and can’t be fixed within three days.
‘For some consumers, an acceptable arrangement might be an uplift in their mobile data allowance; for others, it might be a billing rebate or payment to help cover the data charges,’ said O’Loughlin.
These new requirements complement the recently announced Service Continuity Standard, and cover Fibre to the Node, building and curb technologies.
‘In December, the ACMA committed to implementing a package of measures to improve consumers’ experience in moving to NBN-based services. These rules are the final piece of that package,’ O’Loughlin said.
The ACMA has now made rules obliging telcos to:
- Give consumers the information they need to choose an NBN plan that works for them.
- Test that their new NBN service is working as promised.
- Provide an interim service to the consumer or reconnect the consumer’s old service if there are delays getting the new NBN service working.
- Move swiftly to resolve consumer complaints—drawing in other companies in the NBN service supply chain where necessary and stopping the ‘buck-passing’ of complaints between providers and NBN Co.
‘With this package in place, the ACMA now turns its attention to industry compliance with the new rules and any enforcement action required,’ Ms O’Loughlin said.
‘As the NBN rollout is reaching its peak, early and consistent compliance with the new rules is essential to protect consumers. The first of the rules has already taken effect and the remainder will kick in on 21 September, so the ACMA will be commencing our monitoring activities shortly.
‘We will regularly report on how things are going, including on industry compliance, consumer experience and, where necessary, enforcement activities.
‘Prior to the rules commencing, we will be working with industry to help them to understand and comply with the new rules, including published guidelines and industry “tune-ups”,’ said O’Loughlin.