With a view to helping customers move more smoothly to the National Broadband Network (NBN), the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced new industry standards. A new Consumer Information Standard will require operators to provide prospective customers with a ‘Key Facts Sheet’ that explains different plans offered, while they will also be required to remind consumers to check that critical services – such as medical and security alarms – are compatible with the NBN before moving. Meanwhile, the new Service Continuity Standard requires telcos and NBN Co – the company overseeing the NBN rollout – to not disconnect existing services until a new NBN-based service is working, where that is feasible. Where there is no working service it sets time frames around reconnecting customers to their old service or offering them an interim service while their new NBN-based service is fixed.
These standards will take effect on 21 September 2018 and will be immediately and directly enforceable by the ACMA. Should an operator breach one of the standards, it has been confirmed that the regulator can commence court proceeding seeking remedies such as injunctions and civil penalties of up to AUD250,000 (USD185,416). Looking ahead, further ACMA actions are expected to be announced by the end of next month to establish rules for telcos to undertake testing of lines and further improve the continuity of service for customers who experience a loss of service.
Commenting on the matter, ACMA chairperson Nerida O’Loughlin said: ‘While the majority of consumers are having a good experience in their migration to the NBN, unfortunately a number are not … In December, the ACMA committed to implementing a package of measures to improve consumers’ experience in moving to NBN-based services … These new rules will further smooth customers’ move so they can fully benefit from the new [NBN].’