ACMA to ensure internet users see NBN rebates

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ACMA to ensure internet users see NBN rebates

Either in 'monetary value' or as 'in kind' benefits.

Australian internet users that experience “unmet connection, fault, appointment-keeping and speed service standards” will receive some form of compensation under new rules proposed today.

The rules for “rebate pass-through” are being proposed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and - in the case of the NBN - will be supported by clauses in the upcoming wholesale broadband agreement (WBA4) between NBN Co and its retail service providers (RSPs).

Back in August, under pressure from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), NBN Co agreed to pay daily rebates on slow, congested and underperforming services, as well as for missed appointments and service faults.

An expectation was set at that point that RSPs receiving the rebates would pass them on to impacted customers in some form.

These rules are now starting to be defined.

Under proposed rules from the ACMA, RSPs must “develop and offer clear service commitments to consumers, provide information about the remedies that they will provide if those commitments are not met and their performance in meeting those commitments”.

They must also commit to customers receiving “direct flow-on benefits when rebate compensation is provided by wholesale service providers ... for missed service standards.”

“The draft determination will make it compulsory for rebates offered by NBN Co or other network operators, to be passed through to consumers,” the ACMA said.

“This must be done in one of two ways: by passing the rebate amount through in monetary form to compensate the customer for the detriment experienced, [or] as an appropriate mitigation measure to affected consumers that fully (or substantially) mitigates the impact of the service standard failure on the customer.”

The ACMA will only insist that missed appointment rebates are fully credited to end users as a “monetary value … such as a plan discount or credit on a customer’s bill”.

On other rebates, the internet provider has some flexibility.

“The ACMA is aware that one retailer already passes through the full rebates to their customers or provides ‘in kind’ benefits in place of rebates,” it said.

“An example of an in-kind benefit that is already prevalent in the market is backup modems that automatically switch over to mobile networks if a connection is delayed or a customer is experiencing a fault in connection with their NBN service.”

The rules are expected to be in place in early 2021. 

An industry consultation on the rules will wrap up on December 9.

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