Thursday, 17 May 2018 12:14

Comms Alliance suggests 'improvements' to NBN migration rules Featured

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The telecommunications industry lobby group, Communications Alliance, has put forward what it says are improvements that would make new draft NBN migration rules more oriented to consumers and easier to put in place.

The three sets of rules — formulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority in response to a December 2017 Direction from Communications Minister Senator Mitch Fifield — are intended to help consumers migrate to the NBN.

They are meant to ensure consumers receive appropriate information, that they will get the broadband speeds they have paid for and are not left without a working connection for long.

In a statement, the CA said its proposed changes largely focused on alignment of the draft rules and existing Industry Codes and regulator guidance.

It also suggested that new draft requirements for testing NBN consumer connections be made technically feasible and more useful for consumers, and proposed ways to make new draft service continuity rules more consumer-friendly and operationally workable.

CA chief executive John Stanton pointed out that the joint efforts of retail service providers and the NBN Co had reduced network congestion and improved timeliness of connections and the percentage of connections done properly on the first try.

In its submission to the ACMA, the CA acknowledged that some consumers face disruption when they migrated to the NBN.

“We agree that there is scope for industry to further improve the customer migration experience. However, we are concerned that some of the proposed rules may not achieve this or, even worse, bear the risk of being detrimental to an efficient migration and enhanced consumer experience,” said Stanton.

“In particular, the Service Continuity Standard, apart from lacking clarity and often not being operationally or technically feasible, is likely to introduce significant additional distraction and divert resources away from moving consumers to the NBN with the best possible experience.

“It is hard to conceive (of) situations where it would be in a consumer’s interest to be reconnected to a legacy network rather than providing an interim alternative service while focusing all efforts on addressing any migration issues that may have occurred.

“It is important to understand that where a consumer has moved from a copper-based legacy network to an NBN FttN, FttB or FttC connection, providers cannot fix any issues that may have arisen with the NBN connection if the consumer has moved back to their old network. The two services both use the same copper – so you can’t restore one and still fix the other at the same time."

Stanton said industry was arguing that the proposed Service Continuity Standard should be refocused, away from reconnecting consumers to legacy networks and toward maintaining continuity of service through interim alternative services e.g. mobile-based broadband, while the permanent NBN connection was completed.

The submission argues that a reconnection to a legacy network be a last resort.

He added: “We also have concerns with some of the testing that the ACMA proposes in the new Line Testing Determination. The large volumes of tests that will certainly challenge providers at a time when they are trying to focus on migrating consumers to the NBN."

Another concern raised by industry was around the technical feasibility of some of the tests, and the lack of alignment between the proposed new rules and existing guidance on speed claims published by the ACCC and implemented by large parts of the industry.

“Given the multi-million dollar cost to industry flowing from the three proposed instruments – costs which are, in large part, ultimately borne by consumers – our industry is committed to work with government and the ACMA to ensure that the measures are efficient, workable and do generate an improved consumer migration experience,” Stanton said.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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