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iiNet lost a copper line, an NBN customer, and must now undergo a systems audit

ACMA threatening to drag TPG-owned telco to court if it does not comply with direction.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: Giulio Fornasar

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued a direction to iiNet to undergo an independent audit after it left a customer's legacy ADSL service service switched off for the better part of November last year, following a bungled NBN migration.

The customer was in iiNet's system with a pre-ordered NBN service, waiting for their area to go live, when the system kicked into gear with a pending fibre to the curb (FttC) connection on November 2, 2018. The service was given the label Service Class 33 by NBN, meaning the work involved in the connection is only needed at the exchange, and the customer should be able to plug in equipment and be on their way.

It was on November 7, according to ACMA's investigation, that iiNet's automated provisioning service started to make things go awry.

"According to iiNet, the disconnection was due to 'premature' porting of the customer's phone number to the Netphone (VoIP) service as part of the automated process. The porting occurred in preparation of the customer's NBN service order," ACMA said.

"As a consequence of this porting, iiNet lost the ability to identify the copper line into the customer's premises and the service delivered over that line. In turn, due to being unable to identify the copper line and service, the customer's phone and ADSL services were disconnected."

The next day, the customer attempted to connect to the NBN equipment iiNet had sent out, but unsurprisingly, it did not work.

Despite numerous calls between iiNet and the customer, it took the telco until November 16 to lodge a fault with NBN, and an NBN technician failed to get the service going on November 26.

"The customer called iiNet to confirm that the technician had been unable to fix the service and had advised the customer that the ADSL service should be able to be reconnected," ACMA wrote.

However in that time, NBN had shifted the service class of the connection and put the order on hold -- something iiNet was unaware of.

The next day the customer filed a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, and on November 28, iiNet offered an interim mobile broadband connection. However, the customer had enough, rebuffed the offer, and said they had moved to another provider.

ACMA said that a "reasonable step" would have been for iiNet to make sure the cutover process was complete before porting started.

"By iiNet's own submissions, if this had occurred, the customer's service would not have been disconnected," ACMA said.

"In addition, NBN services using FttC technology are not connected to a consumer's premises as a parallel migration (meaning that disconnection of a consumer's legacy service is not required to connect the new NBN service)."

Consequently, ACMA had directed iiNet to undertake an independent audit on its systems.

"Under ACMA rules, iiNet should have offered the customer an interim service while the issue was being fixed, and this didn't happen," ACMA chair Nerida O'Loughlin said.

"Once we see the results of the audit we will monitor iiNet's progress to ensure this issue doesn't happen again."

ACMA said that should iiNet fail to comply, it could drag the telco to court where it may face a maximum penalty of AU$10 million.

iiNet has the option to appeal the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Last month, ACMA 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," O'Loughlin said at the time.

"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.

Earlier this month, M2 was formally warned by ACMA for transferring a customer's service without their consent, following an unsolicited phone call from M2's sales division.

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