The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released its final set of new rules requiring telcos to help their customers move smoothly to the National Broadband Network (NBN).
ACMA research 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 ten households, the interruption was for more than two weeks.
In response, 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 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.
“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.
“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,” she added.
The 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 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 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.
“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,” said O’Loughlin.
The new rules will be directly enforceable by the ACMA and, where breaches are found, allow the ACMA to commence court proceedings seeking remedies such as injunctions and civil penalties of up to A$10 million.
MyRepublic fined over misleading NBN speed claims
In related news, NBN provider MyRepublic has paid penalties totalling A$25,200 following two infringement notices from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for alleged false or misleading representations about its NBN service performance.
Between December 2017 and April 2018, MyRepublic marketed its NBN services using statements such as “up to nbnTM100 Speed Tier” and “nbn™50 Speed Tier” on its website.
The MyRepublic website contained fine print disclaimers that the ACCC considered ineffective, as they were not prominent and did not provide clear information.
“We were concerned that MyRepublic’s use of the NBN speed tiers misled consumers to believe they would get broadband speeds of, or close to, 100 Mbps and 50 Mbps during all or almost all of the time, when that wasn’t the case,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
NBN speed tiers indicate the maximum performance of a broadband service but a number of factors, including congestion during busy periods, affects the actual speeds consumers will experience, she added.
“When choosing between broadband services, consumers need accurate information about the performance they should expect, particularly during busy periods,” Court said. “We’ve been very clear with broadband providers about this and reference to the NBN speed tiers alone is not sufficient.”
In August 2017 the ACCC issued its Broadband Speed Claims Industry Guidance, a best practice guide intended to improve the information and support available to broadband consumers and to promote competition among broadband providers.