Telco industry calls for regulatory restraint over new NBN complaints rules

Rules take effect 1 July

Telecommunications industry group Communications Alliance has welcomed the introduction new complaints-handling rules but called for the Australian Communications and Media Authority to “exercise some understanding” while service providers push to become compliant.

The ACMA in December detailed a range of new rules it planned to introduce for telcos. A particular focus is trying to combat the poor end user experiences when migrating to the National Broadband Network that have helped drive up NBN-related complaints.

The new rules, which commence on 1 July, outline new procedures for complaints handling and record-keeping. Infractions could lead to court-imposed fines of up to $250,000.

“Consumers deserve to have their complaints dealt with quickly and effectively by their telco provider,” said ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

“In terms of NBN services, they should not experience the ‘buck-passing’ in the handling of consumer complaints we have seen to date.”

“We hope the net result of these and the other rules still under development by the ACMA will contribute to a better experience for customers migrating to NBN-based services – an outcome that will be welcomed right across Australia,” Communications Alliance chief executive John Stanton said.

The CEO noted that the rules take effect in just over three weeks.

“It needs to be recognised that for telecommunications providers to put in place new business processes, make changes to IT systems and train front-line staff in order to be able to comply with new rules – all in the space of three weeks – is virtually impossible,” Stanton said.

The ACMA is planning on introducing additional rules  to safeguard consumers. In April it begun consulting on three additional regulations, including one that would compel a telco to conduct a line test after a customer migrates from the copper network to the NBN.

The testing requirement is designed to stop a repeat of telcos selling customers fibre to the node (FTTN) and fibre to the building (FTTB) services that had maximum speeds that some households’ were not capable of achieving. Tens of thousands of customers of major telcos including Telstra, Optus and TPG were eligible for compensation over the issue.

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Tags broadbandNetworkingTelecommunicationsNational Broadband Network (NBN)Communications AllianceAustralian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

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