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Tuesday, 25 October 2011 11:47

Telecoms consumer to get a new watchdog


The establishment of a committee to monitor telcos' compliance with its provision is one of raft of new consumer protection measures detailed in a Draft Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code released for public comment today.

The new independent body, Communications Compliance (CC) will be required to set up and operate a web site to inform consumers about telcos' compliance with the code. It will be able to demand from service providers their plans setting out how they intend to comply with the code

It will have no power itself to issue any directions to telcos regarding their compliance, only to refer telcos to the ACMA if it believes they have breached their obligations under the code, and to make further requests for information so that it can monitor their compliance. If it is not satisfied with their level of compliance, it can demand the that the service provider produce an action plan setting out how it intends to comply, and be able to refer the telco to the ACMA for further investigation.

CC will not be able to report a supplier to the ACMA without prior written warnings being given and the supplier being afforded an opportunity to provide the required compliance information to CC.

Once finalised the code will be registered with the ACMA. It requires that, within six months of this date, the industry and CC must develop a set of compliance metrics against which suppliers can report their compliance to CC annually or upon request from CC.

Communications Compliance will be governed by a three member board consisting of two directors who will nominate an executive director. The two directors will be the chair of Communications Alliance and a person nominated by consumer representatives.

The day-to day functions of CC will be coordinated by a committee comprising the executive director, two representatives nominated by the telecommunications industry through a nomination process conducted by Communications Alliance, and two representatives nominated by consumers through a nomination process to be conducted by a consumer organisation. That committee will report to the board of CC. No information has so far been provided on how the new body will be funded.

The draft code is open for public comment until 25 November. It is accompanied by an explanatory statement.

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