ACMA completes NBN migration rules

Retailers will be required to undertake line tests and copper speed tests, as well as providing interim services within three days.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has introduced its final rules for the transition of consumers onto the National Broadband Network (NBN), including the requirements for line tests and copper speed tests.

Retailers will also be required to provide interim services if a customer has no access to an NBN service within three days.

"These new rules will give consumers greater confidence that their telco will make sure their new NBN service will work as expected and provide options if their connection doesn't work," ACMA Chair Nerida O'Loughlin said.

"For some consumers, an acceptable arrangement might be an uplift in their mobile data allowance; for others, it might be a billing rebate or payment to help cover the data charges."

O'Loughlin added that the ACMA will report regularly on industry compliance, customer experience, and enforcement activities, which could include civil penalties of up to AU$10 million on top of injunctions.

The ACMA had in June unveiled its Consumer Information Standard and Service Continuity Standard, which will both commence on September 21. The former requires retail service providers (RSPs) to provide a key facts sheet to all NBN customers, while the latter ensures consumers have access to a broadband service at all times.

Under the Telecommunications (NBN Consumer Information) Industry Standard 2018, RSPs are to fulfil minimum requirements for providing information on data speeds, online usage, technical limitations, medical alarm services, and security alarm services.

"The content of this industry standard deals with information and advice that retail carriage service providers must provide to consumers, to help consumers make informed decisions about NBN services, prior to entering into a contract with the retail carriage service provider for the supply of those services," it says.

The standard also provides for advertising guidelines, the provision of advice to consumers about NBN services, and the requirement to keep records.

The Telecommunications (NBN Continuity of Service) Industry Standard 2018then attempts to ensure people are not left with no broadband access during the process of migrating to the NBN.

It sets out the requirement to minimise disruption to the supply of telco services to consumers in ready-for-service areas, while mandating that RSPs and NBN must take all reasonable steps to manage migration. It also includes circumstances under which a legacy service must be supplied, and processes and timeframes for reconnecting and supplying legacy and interim services.

"Together, these rules will require telcos to specify the minimum information that telcos must provide to consumers; 'line test' new services to ensure that lines are working and that faults are identified early; reconnect consumers to legacy network services where readily feasible if a consumer is unable to get a working service over the NBN network; comply with minimum standards for handling of consumer complaints; and report data about the complaints they receive to the ACMA so these can be monitored," O'Loughlin said back in April.

The ACMA had warned three NBN retailers earlier this year for not providing sufficient critical information to consumers on their broadband offerings.

In December, it published the new consumer protections to be implemented during the migration to NBN services, after finding that connection issues may not be resolved for over 100 days on some technologies.

The ACMA had been ordered by the federal government to research NBN migration issues in August, with NBN at the time also creating a dedicated churn team to work through issues as quickly as possible.

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