Issue No 10: 17 May 2018



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Industry Recommends Improvements to New NBN Migration Rules

Communications Alliance has proposed improvements to make new draft NBN migration rules more consumer-focused and practical to implement.

The three sets of rules – which have been drafted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in response to a December 2017 Direction from the Minister for Communications & the Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield – are intended to help consumers migrate to the National Broadband Network (NBN) by ensuring they receive appropriate information, can experience the broadband speeds that they have contracted for and are not left without a working connection for any lengthy period of time.

The Communications Alliance put forward changes to the new draft rules for the provision of information to consumers migrating to the NBN, mostly focusing on the alignment of the draft rules and existing Industry Codes and regulator guidance. Communications Alliance also made suggestions to make new draft requirements for testing consumer connections on the NBN technically feasible and more useful for consumers; and proposed ways to make new draft service continuity rules more consumer-friendly and operationally workable.

The proposed rules follow on the heels of an earlier regulatory proposal – also drafted by the ACMA in response to the Ministerial Direction – covering complaint handling rules and new record keeping rules.

After several years of falling complaint numbers, the industry has recently seen a rise in complaints across a range of products and services – a development which it has been working hard to address.

Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton noted that the joint efforts of service providers and nbn have, in recent months, significantly reduced network congestion and greatly improved the timeliness of connections to the network and the percentage of connections that are achieved correctly at the first appointment. In its submission to the ACMA, Communications Alliance acknowledged, nonetheless, the disruption that the migration to the NBN has caused some customers.

“We agree that there is scope for Industry to further improve the customer migration experience. However, we are concerned that some of the proposed rules may not achieve this or, even worse, bear the risk of being detrimental to an efficient migration and enhanced consumer experience,” said Mr Stanton.

“In particular, the Service Continuity Standard, apart from lacking clarity and often not being operationally or technically feasible, is likely to introduce significant additional distraction and divert resources away from moving consumers to the NBN with the best possible experience.

“It is hard to conceive situations where it would be in a consumer’s interest to be reconnected to a legacy network rather than providing an interim alternative service while focusing all efforts on addressing any migration issues that may have occurred.

“It is important to understand that where a consumer has moved from a copper-based legacy network to an NBN FTTN, FTTB or FTTC connection, providers cannot fix any issues that may have arisen with the NBN connection if the consumer has moved back to their old network. The two services both use the same copper – so you can’t restore one and still fix the other at the same time.

Industry argues that the proposed Service Continuity Standard should be refocused, away from reconnecting consumers to legacy networks and toward maintaining continuity of service through interim alternative services e.g. mobile-based broadband, while the permanent NBN connection is completed as a matter of urgency. The submission argues that a reconnection to a legacy network be treated as a last resort.

“We also have concerns with some of the testing that the ACMA proposes in the new Line Testing Determination. The large volumes of tests that will certainly challenge providers at a time when they are trying to focus on migrating consumers to the NBN,” said Mr Stanton.

Industry also raised concerns around the technical feasibility of some of the tests, and the misalignment of the proposed new rules and already existing guidance on speed claims published by the ACCC and implemented by large parts of the industry.

“Given the multi-million dollar cost to industry flowing from the three proposed instruments – costs which are, in large part, ultimately borne by consumers – our industry is committed to work with Government and the ACMA to ensure that the measures are efficient, workable and do generate an improved consumer migration experience,” Mr Stanton concluded.

Communications Alliance submission to the ACMA on the proposed instruments for NBN Consumer Information, Line Testing and Service Continuity

Communications Alliance has made a submission to the ACMA Consultation Paper New rules to protect consumers migrating to the National Broadband Network; Part 2: Improving consumer information and ensuring service continuity and quality.

In its submission, Communications Alliance acknowledges the disruption that the migration to the NBN has caused and re-iterates Industry’s commitment to boost efforts to improve the migration experience through various measure. However, the submission contends that the three proposed instruments are not an appropriate means to achieve the desired objective of improving the consumer experience moving to the NBN and that some of the proposed requirements bear the real risk of being detrimental to it as the measures – designed to mitigate temporary difficulties – are likely to introduce substantial distraction and additional costs which must be weighed against the benefits of focusing all available resources on the declared objective of migrating consumers as efficiently as possible to the NBN.

The submission also notes that the envisaged implementation timeframes of three months are challenging for some aspects of the proposed regulation and completely unachievable for others.

Areas of particular concern in the three instruments include:

Telecommunications (NBN Consumer Information) Industry Standard 2018:

  • the level of unnecessary and unhelpful prescriptiveness of the Standard; and
  • the misalignment of the Standard and the ACCC Broadband Speed Claims Industry Guidance.

Telecommunications Service Provider (NBN Line Testing) Determination 2018:

  • impracticalities resulting from the large volume of tests required;
  • the misalignment of the Determination and the ACCC Broadband Speed Claims Industry Guidance;
  • the resultant misinterpretation that network/plan related speed measurements and advertising can be equated to a promise to an individual consumer;
  • the methodology of the consumer-initiated layer 3 speed testing; and
  • the timeframes stipulated within the Determination.

Telecommunications (NBN Continuity of Service) Industry Standard 2018:

  • the undue focus onto reconnection to a legacy network instead of service continuity. The latter could be achieved through various alternatives services, including a consumer’s own mobile service where this service is not supplied by the Carriage Service Provider providing the NBN service;
  • a significant lack of understanding of the workings of consumer migrations to the NBN, including the fact that a consumer’s migration to the NBN cannot be progressed once a consumer has been reconnected to a copper-based legacy network, thereby leaving reconnected customers stranded or subjecting them to the risk of repeated reconnection-migration cycles;
  • the large-scale diversion of resources away from the stated aim of migrating consumers to the NBN;
  • the consumer detriment that is likely to result from consumers being reconnected to a legacy network (including where the access technology is not copper-based);
  • the timeframes stipulated within the Standard.

New Member

Communications Alliance is pleased to welcome the following new member;



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