Optus booted from ACMA complaints report and told to get external audit

ACMA has clamped down on Optus' record keeping, excluding it from the latest Telecommunications complaints handling report.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: Optus

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has used its powers to force Optus to get an external audit of the data it provides to the regulator, after multiple amendments were made to its submissions and what was described as "ongoing data anomalies".

"Telco complaints data serves an important purpose for industry, consumers, government and the ACMA in understanding the issues being experienced by Australian consumers with their telecommunications services," ACMA chair Nerida O'Loughlin said.

"A failure to provide accurate data reduces the validity of the information and impacts our ability to use it to make informed evidence-based decisions."

ACMA said it would include Optus data in future reports "when the ACMA is confident of its accuracy".

An Optus spokesperson told ZDNet it did resubmit revised data to the ACMA, and is confident future submissions would meet all requirements.

On the latest edition of the report, ACMA said there was a drop in complaints as users moved over to the National Broadband Network (NBN).

"Complaints about broadband services delivered over the NBN have reduced and average 193 per 10,000 services compared to complaints about the old fixed broadband network which average 369," ACMA said.

ACMA noted a high level of complaints with NBN voice-only services, with the authority writing to ISPs to determine the root cause and whether action was being taken.

The level of maturity of a particular NBN access technology type impacted the complaints ratio, O'Loughlin said.

Fibre-to-the-curb received the highest number of complaints at 475 per 10,000 services, followed by HFC, fibre-to-the-basement, fixed wireless, fibre-to-the-node, fibre-to-the-premise, and finally satellite technology.

ZDNet asked ACMA to what extent the removal of Optus has impacted this year's numbers, but they did not reply at the time of publication. ACMA responded a day later, but did not address the impact on its numbers.

Optus confirmed reports on Monday that it found that customer details were published on Sensis White Pages during a recent review.

"The majority of the affected customers' details were already listed with Sensis prior to joining Optus," a spokesperson said.

"As a priority, Optus arranged for Sensis to remove customer details from their online website directory, operator-directory assistance and any future printed editions of directories."

The company said it had "notified and apologised" to impacted customers.

Updated at 9:23am AEDT, 29 October 2019: Added ACMA response.

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