Government issues Interim Statement of Expectations to NBN Co

On 24 September 2013, the new Government issued an interim statement of expectations to the NBN Co. The Statement is the first in a series of directions to NBN Co. It confirms the Government's approach as set out in the Coalition's Plan for Fast Broadband and an Affordable NBN and establishes the Government's goals for the transition period. The Statement directs NBN Co to continue to:

  • deploy the fixed wireless network but to "take into account the very likely availability of fixed line broadband technology via VDSL in smaller communities not currently in the fibre fixed line footprint";
  • offer services over the interim satellite service and continue work associated with the build and launch of the long term satellites;
  • construct of the transit network and points of interconnect;
  • develop of special services; and
  • deploy fibre to new development areas.

Please click on the link for a copy of the Statement.

The ACMA's International Mobile Roaming Standard takes effect

In July we reported that the ACMA had created an International Mobile Roaming Standard, requiring Carriage Service Providers supplying international mobile roaming services to provide consumers with information about roaming costs and to provide a method of opting out of roaming services. The Standard has now taken effect, although its implementation will occur in stages.

From 27 September 2013, all customers will receive an SMS alert advising them when they begin roaming while overseas and warning them that significantly higher charges may apply. Customers of Optus, Telstra and Vodafone will receive SMS messages advising them of the costs of using roaming services in each country they visit. Medium and smaller CSPs, who will in future build systems to send such messages, are required to provide customers with information about roaming prices and an ACMA fact sheet on alternatives when the customers first request roaming.

For more information see the ACMA press release.

The ACMA formally warns Telstra for incorrect billing of data roaming service

The ACMA has issued to Telstra a formal warning under subsection 122(2) of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth) for failing to accurately bill some customers for international mobile roaming data services between February 2009 and April 2012, in breach of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code.

Telstra had initially reported to the ACMA that it had overcharged customers over a six-year period from 2006 to 2012, and had relied on an exception to the TCP Code where the inaccuracy is caused by reliance on information provided by contractors. However, the ACMA investigation found that Telstra could only rely on this exception until it received a complaint from a consumer who had been overcharged. Billing inaccuracies after that time were caused by Telstra's failure to investigate the complaint.

For more information, and for a copy of the formal warning, see the ACMA press release.

The ACCC varies Facilities Access Code

The ACCC has updated the Facilities Access Code, which governs how access to certain telecommunications facilities owned by telecommunications carriers is provided to other carriers. The update follows a review of the Code which commenced in July 2012. The updates:

  • make timeframes for accessing facilities a mandatory provision;
  • account for changes in legislation since the Code was made in 1999; and
  • remove obsolete references and make minor typographical changes.

For a copy of the ACCC's decision to vary the Code, which includes a summary of the submissions received from stakeholders on certain issues during the review, please click here.

For more information see the ACCC media release.

Lycamobile gives enforceable undertaking over IPND rule breaches

The ACMA has accepted an enforceable undertaking from Lycamobile Pty Ltd to improve the accuracy of customer information provided to the Integrated Public Number Database Manager. By the undertaking, Lycamobile commits to upgrading its data collection and error correction processes, auditing its existing records, instigating a training and education process, and reporting to the ACMA.

For more information, and for a copy of the enforceable undertaking, see the ACMA press release.

The ACCC approves Telstra migration plan measures

The ACCC has approved three measures proposed by Telstra to support the migration of customers onto the National Broadband Network in regions where NBN Co has rolled out its fibre to the premises network. The approved measures relate to the disconnection of services (from copper or HFC networks) that have not migrated to the NBN within the applicable switchover period, and the building of copper lines in NBN regions to supply services not yet able to be provided over the NBN. The ACCC must approve a measure if it is satisfied that it complies with the migration plan principles.

For more information see the ACCC media release.

For the reasons for decision, please click here.

Communications Alliance launches VDSL2 and Vectoring Working Committee

Communications Alliance has launched a revision of industry Standards and an industry Code to facilitate the introduction of VDSL2 and vectoring as part of the National Broadband Network. The VDSL2 and Vectoring Working Committee will revise four co-regulatory instruments plus an informative brochure as part of the project, which is the latest in a range of NBN-related projects driven by CA, including projects relating to:

  • local number portability arrangements in an NBN-based environment;
  • arrangements facilitating the transfer of customers between providers post-migration to the NBN;
  • steps to help the transition of over-the-top devices to the NBN; and
    the implementation of opt-in battery back-up arrangements.

For more information, and to view the documents to be revised by the Working Committee, see the CA media release.

UN Broadband Commission releases two global reports

The UN Broadband Commission released two global reports during September. The first entitled The State of Broadband 2013 contains country rankings tracking performance against the four broadband targets set by the Commission in 2011 for making broadband policy universal and for boosting affordability and broadband and uptake. The second entitled Doubling Digital Opportunities: Enhancing the Inclusion of Women & Girls in the Information Society is the first global report on broadband and gender and estimates that there are currently 200 million fewer women online than men.

For more information see the ITU press release.