TRANSPARENCY AND CONSUMER CHOICE FOCUS FOR CONSUMER SAFEGUARDS REVIEW

Sydney, 22 January 2019: Australia should move to a simpler, more transparent framework of safeguards around the reliability of telecommunications services, ensuring secure access and customer choice in a competitive market, Communications Alliance has advised the Government’s Consumer Safeguards Review.

In a submission responding to the Review’s Part B consultation on the reliability of services, industry has proposed a clear set of principles from which to build a replacement for the complex, outdated and duplicative set of current rules.

As part of its reform proposals, industry recommends that Service Providers should:

  • publish and provide to customers their service quality commitments (commitments that are also backed up at the wholesale level), thus enabling consumers to choose the service that works best for their preferences and budgets; andpublish and provide to customers their service quality commitments (commitments that are also backed up at the wholesale level), thus enabling consumers to choose the service that works best for their preferences and budgets; and
  • provide tailored and transparent compensation for consumers if reliability commitments are not met.

The Communications Alliance submission supports the notion that consumers should have access to appropriate information gathered by regulators from service providers, but warned against the two overlapping industry regulators, - the ACCC and ACMA – each demanding similar information from service providers, in different formats and thereby driving up compliance costs. 

Industry disagreed firmly with some elements of the Government consultation paper, including its assertion that consumer safeguards are best delivered through direct regulation. The submission argues that – in line with The Australian Government Guide to Regulation - regulation should never be adopted as a default solution.

“The consumer safeguards framework needs to be designed for the challenges of the future,” said Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton

“It should be adaptable, efficient, and promote competition as the most effective way to achieve results for consumers and use the Government’s previously established best practice approach to regulation.”

In addition to the submission to Part B of the Consumer Safeguards Review, Industry hopes to continue working with the Department to establish common principles across the entire consumer safeguards framework.

Industry’s proposed overarching principles:

Access

  • All Australians should be able to access telecommunications to enable participation in a digital society;
  • A ‘basic essential service’ should be available to all Australians; and
  • Communications infrastructure should be functional and reliable.

Choice

  • Communications markets should be open and competitive so as to encourage investment, innovation and diversity of choice.

Rights

  • Consumers should have access to information to allow them to make informed choices, based on their preferences;
  • Consumers should have appropriate avenues for redress; and
  • Consumers should be confident that their personal information is protected appropriately.

Communications Alliance’s submission to Part B of the Consumer Safeguards Review can be found here.

ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS ALLIANCE
Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body  in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the  communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet  service providers, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.

Its vision is to  provide a unified voice for the telecommunications industry and to lead  it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and  services. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to promote the growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of  consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance. For more details about  Communications Alliance, see www.commsalliance.com.au.

Media information contact:
Sefiani
Kurt Graham kgraham@sefiani.com.au
0431 478 558