iiNet was acquired by top four telecommunications provider TPG in 2016 for $1.4 billion, in a merger that raised a few eyebrows at the time over the potential lessening of competition in the marketplace.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has directed iiNet to conduct an independent audit of its systems after a customer was left without Internet for more than three weeks during the process of moving to the NBN.
An ACMA investigation found iiNet failed to take reasonable steps to minimise the customer’s phone and Internet disruption during the process.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said it is simply not acceptable for customers to be left in the dark with no Internet service while they are moving to the NBN.
“On this occasion iiNet have let this customer down, and they have fallen short of what consumers should be able to expect from their telco providers.
“Telcos must ensure customers who experience problems during their move to the NBN can still access a service while those issues are being fixed.
“Under ACMA rules, iiNet should have offered the customer an interim service while the issue was being fixed, and this didn’t happen.
“Once we see the results of the audit we will monitor iiNet’s progress to ensure this issue doesn’t happen again,” she said.
If iiNet fails to comply with the direction the ACMA may commence court proceedings seeking remedies such as injunctions and civil penalties of up to $10 million.
The ACMA investigation found iiNet’s actions breached the Telecommunications Service Continuity Standard and Service Migration Determination, which are part of a package of rules developed to protect consumers moving to the NBN.
Rules in relation to service continuity came into effect in September 2018 following ACMA research that found almost one in six households moving to the NBN was left without a working connection for more than a week. For almost one in 10 households, the interruption was for more than two weeks.
Enforcing these rules as consumers move to the NBN is an ACMA compliance priority for 2019-20. In June seven telcos were issued with infringement notices totalling $88,200 for failing to provide adequate information about their NBN plans on their websites.
iiNet may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to review the ACMA’s decision.