Home Telecoms & NBN RSPs will have to tread with care as ACMA NBN rules now fully in place

The final rules devised by the Australian Communications and Media Authority to improve the experience of consumers who move over to the national broadband network, and carrying penalties of up to $10 million for offenders, take effect from today.

All the rules can now be enforced by the ACMA and allow it to begin an audit to look at taking court action for injunctions and civil penalties up to the aforementioned sum.

New rules for handling complaints have been in effect since 1 July. The rule that took effect on Friday concerns the NBN Co's consumer information standard that ensures consumers are given all the necessary information to make informed choices about the NBN service and plan that is right for them.

The ACMA said in a statement that over the last six months it drafted rules to:

  • "give consumers the information they need to choose an NBN plan;
  • "confirm that their new NBN service is working;
  • "provide an interim service to the consumer or reconnect their old service if there are delays getting the new NBN service working;
  • "move swiftly to resolve complaints, drawing in other companies in the NBN service supply chain where necessary to stop ‘buck-passing’ of complaints between providers and NBN Co."

Chair Nerida O'Loughlin said: "The ACMA has been working hard on behalf of consumers to address issues of concern before we reach the peak rollout period for the NBN.

"With the new rules in place, the ACMA will now turn its attention to industry compliance.

"We have already put telcos on notice in our Compliance and enforcement statement of approach that early and consistent compliance with the new rules is essential.

"Our preliminary findings indicate that telcos still have a long way to go to comply with these new complaints-handling rules.

"Formal investigations into a number of providers are ongoing and we will publish a report on these once finalised.

"We remain absolutely focused on the implementation of safeguards and protections for consumers during their move to services delivered over the NBN."

Commenting on the NBN rules, Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones said in a statement: "Residential consumers and small businesses want migration from their old phone or Internet service to a service delivered over the NBN to go well. The ACMA’s rules give clear guidance to telcos about its expectations under the new rules, and provides a strong framework to resolve problems if these arise.

“We will take the ACMA’s new rules into account when dealing with complaints.”

The statement added that residential consumers or small businesses should first aim to resolve their complaint with their phone or Internet provider. But if the complaint remained unresolved, they were urged to contact the TIO at www.tio.com.au or to call 1800 062 058.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame 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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