ACMA to introduce new rules for telcos signing up NBN customers

Will consult on new rules in 2018

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will introduce new rules intended to provide better protections for consumers during the migration to the National Broadband Network.

In the wake of growing complaints related to NBN services the government in August revealed it had commissioned the ACMA to scrutinise the experience of end users on the new network.

The ACMA today released the results of its research and foreshadowed the introduction of mandatory new rules for retail service providers (RSPs).

The regulator said it would consult on the new rules in 2018 but revealed their broad brushstrokes today. RSPs will have an obligation to maintain service continuity during consumers migration to the NBN as part of an ’NBN Connection Assurance Standard’.

“In cases where a service cannot be delivered on the network, all parties are to work effectively together to ensure that a consumer’s legacy service is reconnected in a reasonable time,” the ACMA said.

RSPs will also be obliged to conduct post-connection line-testing to identify any faults. Earlier this week TPG became the latest RSP forced to compensate customers after it sold NBN fibre to the node (FTTN) and fibre to the building (FTTB) services with unachievable speeds. Telstra and Optus are also compensating some of their FTTN and FTTB customers.

RSPs will have to maintain quarterly records of complaints and provide that data to the ACMA and will also have to comply with new a complaints-handling standard. The ACMA said the new standard would be based on the existing Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code but incorporate additional provisions.

“These provisions will ensure upstream providers such as wholesalers, other intermediaries and NBN Co provide reasonable assistance to RSPs to resolve customer complaints,” the ACMA said.

Another key measure is a Consumer Information Standard — RSPs will have to provide consumers with key information in a standardised format similar to telcos' obligations when selling mobile services.

“The rollout of the NBN is a once-in-a-generation migration process that will see every home and business in the nation able to hook up a new high-speed broadband connection,” communications minister Senator Mitch Fifield said in a statement.

“While the majority of customers migrating to the NBN enjoy a smooth experience, with such a huge number of homes and businesses connecting to the NBN every day we want to ensure the experience is the best it can be.”

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