Home Business Telecommunications ACMA hits 31 telcos for non-compliance with consumer rules on NBN
ACMA hits 31 telcos for non-compliance with consumer rules on NBN Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Featured

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has completed 38 investigations and issued enforcement notices against 31 telcos for non compliance with new rules designed to help consumers moving to the National Broadband Network.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin says the ACMA put in place a “comprehensive set of rules to ensure the telco industry lifts its game, particularly as the migration of customers to services delivered over the NBN reaches its peak. We are now enforcing those rules.”

As well as completing 38 investigations resulting in enforcement action against 31 providers, under the new rules the ACMA also:

•    Audited 25 providers under the new Consumer Information Standard

•    Accepted an enforceable undertaking from Telstra to improve the Triple Zero emergency call service in the second half of 2018.

Four telcos were issued with remedial directions by the ACMA and 27 were given formal warnings.

The ACMA says three providers contravened the standard, but no enforcement action was taken, while Four providers did not breach the complaints-handling rules.

peter acma

Telcos given a remedial direction to comply were:

•    Australia Broadband Pty Ltd
•    Flip TV Pty Limited
•    OzTalk Communications Pty Ltd
•    Simply NBN Pty Ltd

Telcos given a formal warning:

•    ACN Pacific Pty Ltd
•    Amnet Broadband Pty Ltd
•    Astron Communication and Information Services Pty Ltd
•    Aussie Broadband Pty Ltd
•    Australian Phone and Internet Pty Ltd
•    Australian Private Networks Pty Ltd
•    BVivid Pty Ltd
•    Dodo Services Pty Ltd
•    Engin Pty Limited
•    Exetel Pty Ltd
•    Foxtel Management Pty Ltd
•    Fuzenet Pty Ltd
•    iiNet Limited
•    Intelico Pty Ltd
•    Internode Pty Ltd
•    M2 Commander Pty Ltd
•    My Net Fone Australia Pty Ltd
•    MyRepublic Pty Ltd
•    Primus Telecommunications Pty Ltd
•    Singtel Optus Pty Ltd
•    SpinTel Pty Ltd
•    Tangerine Telecom Pty Ltd
•    Telstra Corporation Limited
•    TPG Internet Limited
•    Vividwireless Pty Ltd
•    Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd
•    WestNet Pty Ltd

Here’s the full list of enforcement action by the ACMA:

•     Completed 38 investigations of compliance with the ACMA’s new Complaints-handling Standard, resulting in enforcement action against 31 providers—including issuing four     remedial directions and 27 formal warnings.
•     Conducted an audit of 25 providers’ compliance relating to providing Key Facts Sheets and advertising NBN plans under the ACMA’s new Consumer Information Standard.
•     Following investigations into TPG/PIPE Networks’ compliance with the new Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment Code, the ACMA issued a direction to comply to PIPE Networks. The code requires mobile providers to consult local councils and communities before deploying mobile phone infrastructure.
•     Accepted an enforceable undertaking from Telstra to improve the delivery of the Triple Zero emergency call service, following an ACMA investigation in the second half of 2018.

The ACMA’s key telco consumer advisory group—the Consumer Consultative Forum—discussed consumer priorities for 2019.

In November and December 2018, ACMA reports that it conducted an audit of 25 providers’ compliance with minimum requirements in the new NBN Consumer Information Standard for Key Facts Sheets and advertising.

These rules came into effect on 21 September 2018 and require providers to give consumers information to assist in choosing a suitable NBN plan.

The ACMA says that while the audit focused on residential fixed-line plans, it also looked at small business, fixed wireless and satellite plans for NBN services. “We selected providers to audit based on their market presence, number of NBN consumer complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and their compliance history,” the ACMA notes.

Preliminary findings of the audit identified the following issues.

Key Facts Sheets:
•    not being clear, accurate and/or up-to-date
•    listing plans for NBN services without advising speed tiers
•    not including actions that consumers can take to help maximise internet speeds
•    not stating that an advertised speed tier (for example, NBN25 at 25 Mbps) is the maximum possible speed during off-peak times.
Advertisements:
•    not including the relevant hours for peak times where NBN service speeds may be reduced due to congestion (7 pm–11 pm for residential plans and 9 am–5 pm for business plans)
•    using standard speed labels, but not including label definitions or usage guidance for online activities at that speed
•    using standardised speed labels (such as those described in the ACCC’s Broadband Speed Claims: Industry guidance), but the definitions not being prominent or close to where those labels are used.

The ACMA says that while the enforcement of rules that protect consumers as they migrate to services on the NBN is a key priority for the organisation in 2018–19, it continues to undertake compliance actions, assessments and investigations to uncover and address serious or systemic compliance issues related to other important telco consumer safeguards.

“The ACMA does not generally publish the names of entities that have not breached the rules, or where enforcement actions have not been finalised,” the ACMA notes.
Mobile phone base station deployments:

the ACMA notes that it finalised two investigations into PIPE Networks’ compliance with the Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment Code and, as a result of the investigations, issued a direction to comply with provisions of the code to PIPE Networks.

•    Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2009

We commenced an investigation in May 2018 into a disruption to the emergency call service which occurred on 4 May 2018. The investigation found that Telstra contravened section 22 of the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2009 in respect of 1433 attempted calls to Triple Zero. On 19 October 2018 the ACMA accepted an enforceable undertaking from Telstra in response to the contravention in which Telstra has committed to improving the redundancy and diversity of its network, developing new communications protocols to be used in the event of another emergency service disruption, and benchmarking its systems against international best practice.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

 

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