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Boost to broadband consumer protections

The Turnbull Government has announced a range of new protections to ensure broadband customers get the level of service they expect from their retail service provider as they transition to the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The new protections will empower consumers to make informed decisions about their internet plan, and will ensure greater transparency by retail service providers.

The Government has issued a direction to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to implement the new protections and will provide $8.7 million over three years to support these measures.

The ACMA will require retailers to:

  • improve their complaints handling processes, including informing customers of the time it will take to fix a service and providing a key point of contact;
  • perform a line test to confirm a working connection at installation, and undertake a line speed test at any time if requested by a customer;
  • re-activate a service on a legacy network within a certain timeframe if an erroneous disconnection has occurred and the NBN cannot be connected;
  • publicly release complaints statistics received by large service providers to help consumers differentiate between retailers based on the quality of their customer service;
  • explain to consumers how different speed tiers can be applied in their home or business, as well as a ‘critical information summary’ for NBN services when signing consumers to a new contract.

The ACMA will also:

  • undertake further research into modem quality, potentially leading to the introduction of technical standards, or a modem performance rating scheme.

In addition, the Government will require nbn to establish a consumer experience dashboard to:

  • publicly report nbn connection, fault repair and service delivery performance.

The measures follow the release of research by the ACMA which found that the supply chain from the NBN to the customer is not clear and often involves a number of parties. The Government’s direction follows advice from the ACMA.

“The rollout of the NBN is a once-in-a-generation migration process that will see every home and business in the nation able to hook up a new high-speed broadband connection,” Minister for Communications, Senator Mitch Fifield said.

“While the majority of customers migrating to the NBN enjoy a smooth experience, with such a huge number of homes and businesses connecting to the NBN every day we want to ensure the experience is the best it can be.”

These tougher customer protections follow nbn’s announcement last week of big discounts for its wholesale higher-speed services.

Additionally, the ACCC recently announced the commencement of the Broadband Performance Monitoring and Reporting program, which will provide users with data on the real-world broadband speeds experienced from various RSPs.

An industry CEO roundtable, convened by the Minister for Communications, is continuing to work on customer experience improvements including reducing waiting times for nbn activations and streamlining appointment bookings.

Media Contacts:

Geraldine Mitchell | 0407 280 476 | Geraldine.Mitchell [at] communications.gov.au