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ACCAN recently submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) consultation on the Competition Notice Guidelines. ACCAN’s submission forms part of ACCAN’s ongoing work to support competition in the telecommunications industry in order to promote better outcomes for consumers and small businesses. 

The Competition and Consumer Act (Cth) provides for an industry-specific regulatory framework for telecommunications. This gives the ACCC power to issue a competition notice, which is a formal ‘stop’ notice to a provider who is suspected of acting anti-competitively. If a provider does not comply with a notice they face substantial fines - $10m, plus $1m per day for non-compliance.

The New South Wales Law Reform Commission (NSWLRC) has been asked to review and report on access to digital assets upon death or incapacitation. Digital assets can include images, videos, emails, online banking accounts, cryptocurrency, domain names, blogs and online gaming accounts.

The creation of digital accounts, use of digital media and services is common practice amongst Australian consumers. Despite the many ways Australian consumers engage with digital media and online services, there are inadequate legal protections for them and their digital assets after death. This raises questions about the digital legacy deceased Australians leave behind and what should be done to manage it.

The ACMA is developing new rules to protect consumers migrating to the NBN, as announced late last year. The ACMA has now consulted on all five measures which focus on improving the way the telco industry handles consumer complaints, the provision of information to consumers, and ensuring that consumers have access to a working service.

ACCAN has submitted on the: Complaints Handling Standard, Record Keeping Rules, Consumer Information Standard, Line Testing Determination, and Service Continuity Standard.

ACCAN recently submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) consultation on the declaration of the Domestic Transmission Capacity Service (DTCS).Declaring the DTCS means that wholesale transmission prices on certain routes are regulated by the ACCC. Low DTCS prices means more service providers and more competition.

The Federal Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network is inquiring into the rollout of the NBN in rural and regional areas, focusing on the capacity and reliability of NBN satellite, fixed wireless and fixed line networks. ACCAN has submitted to the inquiry, presenting the major concerns of rural, regional and remote consumers and small business.

Some of the main issues and recommendations in our submission are:

ACCAN submitted to the Treasury’s consultation on the final Open Banking Report and the proposed regulatory framework for the national Consumer Data Right, proposed by the Productivity Commission in its Data Availability and Use inquiry. The Consumer Data Right will oblige organisations to provide consumers with the data that is held about them in a machine-readable format.

As part of its response to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry, the Government announced that the Treasurer would lead the development of the Consumer Data Right, which will be developed first in the banking sector, and then in the energy and telecommunications sectors in late 2018.

ACCAN has an interest in the current consultation as the development of the CDR in banking and its rollout will influence the development and establishment of a right to consumer data more broadly, including in the telecommunications sector.

The .au Domain Administration, auDA, the body that manages internet domain names in Australia, is currently reviewing the domain name policies for Australia’s country code .au through an open policy process. ACCAN has submitted to the Policy Review Panel putting the views that:

  • Australian presence requirements should be strengthened
  • Reserved names should respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander names
  • Monetisation should not exist in any new top level registrations
  • Geographic names should be available more broadly, but with protections
  • Existing second levels should be preserved ( and with others opened up
  • Any changes to WHOIS should incorporate free or low cost access for consumer organisations
  • Domain name suspension policies should be possible for well evidenced misuse and abuse

ACCAN has submitted to the ACCC’s inquiry into NBN’s wholesale service standards. The purpose of the inquiry is to determine whether NBN wholesale service standard levels are appropriate, and to consider whether regulation is necessary to improve customer experiences.

ACCAN has long advocated for reform of existing customer service guarantees for connection times, fault repairs and network reliability. Currently, nbn’s wholesale service standard levels are set out in commercial agreements negotiated by nbn co with retail service providers (nbn’s Wholesale Broadband Agreement). This includes performance objectives and operational targets for nbn co’s products and services, requirements for improvements if targets aren’t met, and an arrangement that allows service providers (nbn’s wholesale customers) to claim compensation for their customers when nbn has failed to meet a service target.

Telecommunication services have always been essential for public health and safety, but today they are a necessity for participation in civic society and transacting with government, for business operations, productivity and growth. ACCAN’s Pre-Budget Submission 2018-19 discusses market gaps and gives recommendations on telecommunications initiatives that will benefit consumers including:

The process for migrating to the NBN is set out in a document called the Migration Plan. The Migration Plan needs to be tailored with each new technology that nbn uses in its network. In this consultation, Telstra has proposed a number of changes to accommodate the Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) technology. nbn plans to use FTTC to connect about one million Australian premises from 2018.

The ACCC is conducting a Communications Sector Market Study, and has consulted on its draft report following its consultation last year on an Issues Paper. The ACCC’s draft report made a number of recommendations and proposed actions to improve telecommunications market and services for consumers over the next 5 years, which adopted many of the suggestions flagged in our Issues Paper submission.

In consultation with its members and other consumer groups, ACCAN responded to the ACMA’s consultation on the potential for industry self-regulation of the IPND, DNCR, and spam.

ACCAN believes it is in the consumer interest that functions of the IPND, DNCR, and commercial electronic messages are not referred to industry for regulation. 

Passing regulatory functions currently undertaken by government to industry could have detrimental privacy and cost implications. It also has the potential to impact on complaints handling, enforcement and compliance, and the transparency over the ways in which these activities are undertaken.