Wednesday, 11 April 2018 10:38

Flow-on cost to consumers from new telecoms rules: CA Featured

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The telecommunications industry has raised concerns about the likely flow-on costs to consumers from the standards which would have to be met under new rules proposed for service providers dealing with consumers migrating to the national broadband network.

The telecoms industry's peak body, Communications Alliance, says industry members have already expressed concern about the level of prescription within the draft Standards and Determination, including the flow-on costs for consumers.

CA was responding to the communications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which has announced it is seeking public input on new rules it is considering imposing which would set new, minimum complaints-handling process requirements on telecommunications service providers.

The public consultation by the ACMA comes in response to growing community concerns, raised in mid-2017, about a rising number of complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

The ACMA says the rules under consideration are specifically aimed at helping residential and small-business consumers make informed choices and maintain service continuity when migrating to the NBN.

Communications Alliance director Program Management, Christiane Gillespie-Jones, said CA welcomed the release by the ACMA of new regulatory instruments relating to consumer information and protections during the migration to the NBN.

Gillespie-Jones said that the prescriptive advertising provisions in the draft Consumer Information Standard were challenging, and Industry would be consulting the ACMA and ACCC on how the new rules would relate to the ACCC’s Industry Guidance on Broadband Speed Claims.

Industry also raised concerns about the practicality of connecting consumers to legacy services, and Gillespie-Jones says it is considering if this constitutes the most efficient method to provide consumers with ongoing Internet access during migration.

“Also, the requirement to respond to consumers’ speed concerns within one working day will add to costs. Providers support testing speeds in response to a consumer request, but the strict timeline proposed in the draft Determination is likely to require additional staff and lead to higher costs for consumers.”

Despite the concerns, Gillespie-Jones said that industry fully supported the ACMA’s efforts to improve the migration experience and provide consumers with appropriate information on their NBN services.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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