Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced today that from 1 October, telcos who don't meet connection and repair times for telephone services 90 per cent of the time will face a fine, which could be as high as $2 million.
Conroy said that the new Consumer Safeguard Guarantee would force large carriage providers to improve the quality of the telephone service they provide.
"The CSG Standard is designed to protect consumers against poor customer service by setting timeframes to be met by service providers for the connection, fault repair and keeping of appointments in relation to standard telephone services provided under the Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) Standard," he said.
"If the CSPs don't meet the timeframes in 90 per cent of cases, then the Australian Communications and Media Authority [ACMA] can fine them using the infringement notice powers provided by the parliament at the end of 2010."
The maximum penalty for infringement is yet to be set, but could be as high as $2 million, according to Conroy's office. Only carriers that offer at least 100,000 services nationally will be measured against the benchmark.
"Reporting by ACMA has shown the existing CSG Standard does not do enough to ensure service providers maintain or improve service quality, particularly in regional and remote areas," he said.
"These new measures will promote consistency and provide incentives for service providers to improve performance, especially in rural and remote areas."
The Telecommunications (Customer Service Guarantee — Retail Performance Benchmarks) Instrument Act (No.1) 2011 is part of the reforms made under the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Act 2010. Conroy had released an exposure draft of the instrument for comment in May this year.