Issue No 18: 30 June 2020



Hot Topics
  • ACOMMS 2020: Winners Announced - 10 September 2020

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Telecommunications Providers Successfully Implement New Consumer Protection Rules

Today’s publication of a shadow shopping exercise by the ACMA underlines the successful efforts of telcos to implement a significant consumer protection rule change in a short amount of time.

Industry’s revised Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code was registered by the ACMA in July 2019, with only one month lead-time for providers to implement the strengthened protections.

The revised code added a requirement – in cases where a new post-paid service contract would amount to more than $1000 - to ask new customers about their capacity to pay for services and to conduct an external credit check.

The new requirement is in addition to the normal commercial credit-checking procedures that service providers already had in place.

Providers were able to quickly implement extensive system and process changes across all sales channels (online, phone, and in-store) and train of thousands of staff to meet the new requirements.

“While the ACMA’s mystery shopping exercise was unfortunately small  - a minute sample size of 37 customers considering the number of credit assessments providers undertake each year – we are pleased that it found broad compliance with these new requirements” said Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton.

“The report will be a useful resource for telcos to check their processes against, and we look forward to engaging with the ACMA on any lessons that can be drawn from the research.”

All customers in the study who purchased online or over the phone recalled being asked about their capacity to pay, while 21 of the 27 who purchased in store recalled being asked, and telcos obtained external credit checks for all participants who were clearly new customers. 

“However, we are not sure that the findings of this minimalist study support an assertion that telcos are not adequately checking customers’ capacity to pay when contracting in store.”

Communications Alliance questioned some elements of the methodology of the exercise. The report was reliant on customer memory – to our understanding, many of the participants were recruited after their purchase experience and thus had no reason to specifically recall the conversation they had in store. Additionally, the survey did not provide the option for a customer to state that they did not recall a specific question.
“We are also concerned that the ACMA appears to have a different understanding, from that of industry, as to what was agreed to be the scope of the requirement to check a customer’s capacity to pay.”

6.1.1 b) (i) of the Code requires telcos to understand how customers will be able to afford their commitments – whether it will be via savings, wages, or another form of income, and where it is via employment, if the customer is part-time, full-time, or permanently employed.

“Striking the balance between ensuring a consumer is able to afford the contract they have chosen while protecting their privacy and preventing discrimination is extremely important, and the Code was drafted to reflect those concerns. We look forward to discussing this matter further with the ACMA,” continued Stanton.

NSW Digital Drivers Licence

Communications Alliance would like to share the following update from Service NSW with you:

Since the Digital Driver Licence (DDL) was launched in October 2019, over 1.5 million NSW drivers have opted in and more than 2000 drivers have downloaded the DDL each day.

The DDL provides NSW drivers with a convenient and easy to use alternative to carry a plastic Driver Licence, and its multiple verification features enable licence checkers to easily confirm the DDL is legitimate and valid, reducing the risk of fraudulent use.

The DDL is already widely accepted by government agencies, including NSW Police, as well as the liquor and gaming industry, major retailers and other industries. They trust the DDL as a secure and convenient way to check proof of age, identity and authority to drive.

This year, Service NSW is introducing new product enhancements to enable industries accepting the DDL to take a secure, authenticated digital copy of the licence. This gives businesses the option to use the DDL in situations where a photocopy or scan of a plastic card would occur.

Building on the success of the Digital Driver Licence, work is also underway to launch a Digital Photo Card in late 2020. The Digital Photo Card will provide an alternative to the plastic card for over 1.6 million existing Photo Card holders which can be used as proof of age, identity and address.

The NSW Government is planning to introduce legislation later this year that will give the DDL the same status as the plastic driver licence card. This will allow the DDL to be accepted by a broader range of industries under NSW legislation and in other jurisdictions as evidence of permission to drive, proof of age and identity.  Service NSW has been working with the telecommunications industry to prepare providers to accept the DDL.

Information about the Digital Driver Licence, including how to check a DDL can be found on the Service NSW website.

Communications Alliance Supports Improved Caller Location Information for Emergency Calls

Communications Alliance has released for public comment new draft requirements that will improve the locating of people making emergency calls from mobile phones. They will enhance the existing work by the telecommunications industry to assist police, fire and ambulance services respond to emergency calls.

The requirements are in a draft a revision of one of its Australian Standards that adds a requirement for mobile phones to generate Advanced Mobile Location (AML) messages when making emergency calls. They align with the international specification of AML by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

After a mobile phone generates an AML message it will be passed by mobile carriers to Telstra, in its role as the Emergency Call Person for Triple Zero. Telstra then passes the information on to the emergency service organisations responding to the emergency call.

The requirements are in the draft DR AS/CA S042.1 2020 Requirements for connection to an air interface of a Telecommunications Network— Part 1: General, which applies to new Customer Equipment (CE) that is an addressable device and is designed or intended for connection to a Public Mobile Telecommunications Service (PMTS) or a Satellite Service e.g. mobile phones and satellite phones.

The public comment period on draft DR AS/CA S042.1:2020 Standard is for a legislated minimum of sixty days and will close on 1 September 2020.

A copy of the draft Standard is available from here.

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