Optus, Vodafone struggle to meet ACMA's premium SMS barring deadline

Communications regulator mulling formal enforcement action against Optus for its delay

Despite being notified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in March of the need to implement premiums SMS barring services for customers, half of the top four telcos have struggled to meet the communication regulator’s 1 July deadline.

An Optus spokesperson has confirmed that it could take an additional four months to make its suite of new customer account management tools for managing monthly spend limits on premium SMS services available to its customers.

“It was originally intended that these new customer tools would be ready before 1 July 2010, however Optus has experienced some delays related to the breadth of its program and will be launching in October,” the spokesperson told Computerworld Australia. “This has been communicated to ACMA."

A wholesale solution with similar features would also be available to Optus’ wholesale providers in October, the spokesperson said.

A Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) spokesperson has also confirmed that it experienced delays in meeting the 1 July deadline on the Vodafone half of its joint business with 3 mobile.

“VHA has been able to accept and implement requests to bar Premium SMS content on the 3 mobile platform since July 1,” the spokesperson said. “VHA has also been working to implement the same capabilities on the Vodafone platform, and has been able to capture requests from Vodafone customers since July 1.

"VHA has subsequently completed final implementation and testing on the Vodafone platform and the system is now operational.”

The ACMA first announced its Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2010 (No.1) on 5 March as part of a package of measures aimed at addressing customer dissatisfaction and community concern about mobile premium services.

The determination requires that all mobile carriage service providers must implement a service that enables it to bar all premium SMS and MMS services on all plans by 1 July 2010 for its customers.

An ACMA spokesperson confirmed that Optus had notified the regulator that it was not yet able to comply with the Barring Determination, and that it was also aware of “potential non-compliance” by Vodafone Hutchison Australia.

“The ACMA considers compliance with this Determination very seriously,” the spokesperson said. “Clearly any delay is unacceptable. It is in discussions with Optus as to its timetable for ensuring its full compliance and will take this into account when considering its formal enforcement action.”

The spokesperson added that the ACMA understood that VHA was able to implement the requirements of the Barring Determination across the former 3 network by 1 July 2010, and that delays are being experienced with implementation of an automated system on the former Vodafone network.

“However, the ACMA understands that a manual work-around is in place for customers connected to the former Vodafone network, and that all VHA customers are able to activate barring if they wish to do so,” the spokesperson said.

The ACMA confirmed that Telstra and Virgin Mobile had both made the 1 July deadline.

Telco analyst house Telsyte has previously warned that the changes to the rules governing premium SMS services had the potential to significantly impact revenues of Australian telcos and their service partners.

Earlier in the year ACMA claimed a 50 per cent reduction in premium SMS-related complaints to the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman following the introduction of its Mobile Premium Services Industry (MPS) Code in July last year.

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Tags smartphonesTelstraoptusmobile phonevirgin mobilesmsAustralian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)Vodafone Hutchinson Australia (VHA)

More about etworkHutchisonOptusTelstra CorporationTelsyteVHAVirgin Mobile AustraliaVodafone

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