After what has been a tumultuous few years for the NBN, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has stepped in and laid down some new ground rules that all telecommunications companies now have to follow when migrating customers over to the service.
“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,” explained ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin.
The rules were set after research conducted by the communications authority found that “almost one in six households moving to an NBN service was left without a working connection for more than a week” and “for almost one in ten households, the interruption was for more than two weeks”.
What the telcos need to do
To fix the migration hiccups, ACMA now requires all telcos to:
- conduct a line test to ensure a customer’s NBN connection is working after installation
- verify that the existing copper wire use to connect the customer to the NBN is capable of delivering the maximum speeds specified in the chosen plan
- offer an interim service or make other acceptable provisions for customers where the new NBN service isn’t working and cannot be fixed within three days.
O’Loughlin suggested that the other acceptable arrangements “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.”
The new rules are meant to “complement the recently announced Service Continuity Standard”, a set of rules to minimise the likelihood of customers being left without an internet connection during their migration to the NBN, and will cover all fixed-line services, namely fibre to the node (FTTN), building/premises (FTTP) and curb (FTTC).
While telcos now need to ensure a smooth transition for customers signing up for the NBN, they are also obliged to
- give consumers the information they need to choose an NBN plan that works for them and
- resolve any consumer complaints swiftly, even if it means involving other companies in the NBN supply chain if necessary, and stop palming the blame onto NBN Co.
"With this package in place, the ACMA now turns its attention to industry compliance with the new rules and any enforcement action required," O’Loughlin added.
While the first set of rules has already been enforced, the rest will take effect on September 21. But ACMA is determined to take a hands-on role in the process. It will “be working with industry to help them to understand and comply with the new rules, including published guidelines and industry 'tune-ups’” and “will regularly report on how things are going”.