Small telcos cash out on ACMA reforms

 

Has the industry given enough ground to ward off intervention?

Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton has warned small telcos could exit the market due to the cost of implementing consumer protection reforms currently before the communications regulator.

Under an 18-month revision [pdf] to the 2007 Telecommunication Consumer Protection (TCP) code that has been submitted to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for registration, telcos will be required to make significant changes to their complaints handling and customer service arrangements.

The revisions are meant to address concerns raised by the ACMA's Reconnecting the Customer inquiry into high customer complaint levels in the industry.

However, at least one industry body has slammed the revised code as not going far enough in addressing the ACMA's concerns.

"I think the industry could have gone further," Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) CEO Teresa Corbin said.

"I don't think they [the industry] took [the ACMA's] Reconnecting the Customer report seriously enough."

She said industry's efforts at self-regulation did not go far enough to protect users from 'bill shock'.

The ACMA has threatened to create and impose its own customer standards on the industry should it find the revised code unaccepable.

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said the regulator was "under no time limit" to assess whether the revisions addressed concerns raised in its inquiry.

"We do understand that Communications Alliance have carefully considered the ACMA's report," Chapman said.

System changes

If the revised code is accepted by the ACMA, telcos will be required to:

  • Publish a "Plan Essentials" document summarising the details of all plans offered to consumers.
  • Provide unit pricing for two-minute calls, sending an SMS message and using one megabyte of data.
  • Notify users when they reach 50 percent, 80 percent and 100 percent of their contract value for mobile voice and SMS use, in addition to data.

Stanton said that the latter change would have the most significant impact on smaller telcos, requiring system changes to comply with the revised code.

"The biggest reason that we hesitated and thought very hard about voice and SMS notifications is that, that will be hard for some players [to implement]," he said.

"There will be some players in the industry who may decide to get out or sell the business rather than undertake the investment needed to have that capability in place.

"That's a harsh reality and that's a reality we had to consider before deciding to put that in the code."

Telcos will be required to put systems in place for usage notifications around voice and SMS usage within 24 months - or by March 1, 2014. Data usage notifications must be implemented a year earlier.

However, ACCAN attacked what it saw as the industry's failure to address ACMA's recommendations for unit pricing and term definitions to be included in all plan advertising.

Corbin said the revised code proposed by the industry would restrict unit pricing information to large-text advertisements, online ads and the "Plan Essentials" summary document.

She said the spend management tools proposed, which currently allow for a 48-hour turnaround of data and usage information, would not appropriately keep consumers up-to-date on their usage.

Stanton defended the industry's decision not to apply real-time usage notifications for users, a contentious topic for carriers who have warned it is technically unfeasible.

He said it would place some service providers which rely on wholesalers for usage date to fall behind in complying with such a request. 

"Smoke and mirror" compliance

Alongside the TCP code revision, the industry group has foreshadowed the establishment of a new compliance body, Communications Compliance, tasked with shaming carriers who flout the rules.

The industry-funded organisation will be able to seek corrective advertising for those who repeatedly breach the code, but Stanton said it could not impose financial penalties.

The compliance board will refer repeated code breaches to the ACMA for further investigation.

"It's not an enforcement body," he said. "We're not trying to duplicate the role of the ACMA."

Corbin said the Communications Compliance body proposed under the revised industry code would provide only "smoke and mirror" compliance without any behavioural change from industry.

Remember to sign up to our new Telecommunications bulletin to stay connected with a concise online wrap of Australiaís telecommunications and ISP industry.

Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


Small telcos cash out on ACMA reforms
 
 
 
Top Stories
Hockey flags billion-dollar Centrelink mainframe replacement
Claims 30 year-old tech is holding Govt back.
 
Ombudsman wants to monitor warrantless metadata access
Requests ability to report publicly.
 
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest articles on BIT Latest Articles from BIT
What are Microsoft Office 365 'Groups'?
Apr 24, 2014
It's one of the biggest changes we're seeing in software like Microsoft Office. Click here for a ...
Preview of new PowerPoint tool Office Mix announced
Apr 23, 2014
PowerPoint users might be interested in some new developments coming up that might change the ...
Another phone with Telstra's Blue Tick: The Samsung Galaxy S5
Apr 8, 2014
Samsung's latest flagship phone joins Telstra's list of recommended handsets for customers in ...
Run an online shop? This might be worth bookmarking
Mar 28, 2014
Things like Australian safety standards are probably the last thing on your mind, but just ...
Vodafone switches on 4G in Tasmania: list of locations
Mar 28, 2014
See a list of locations in Tasmania that now have access to 4G via Vodafone's network.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  20%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  12%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  24%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1514

Vote