The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced on Tuesday that it found over 8,000 breaches of the Telecommunications Service Provider (NBN Service Migration) Determination 2018 and the Telecommunications (NBN Continuity of Service) Industry Standard 2018 from a quartet of telcos in the period of February to April 2019.
The four telcos — Telstra, Optus, TPG, and Dodo — have been hit with enforceable undertakings and need to report back to ACMA each quarter for a year.
When a customer fails to connect to the National Broadband Network (NBN), the rules force telcos to provide an interim service to customers after three days. If the connection is still not activated after 20 days, the telco needs to create a remedial plan, and should 40 days pass without a working NBN connection, a technical audit must take place.
Leading the way with 4,139 breaches was Telstra and its Belong sub-brand, which had 3,230 breaches related to not producing a remedial plan, and 843 breaches related to not conducting audits.
In its enforceable undertaking, the incumbent telco said the shutdown of its outsourced Indian workforce due to the coronavirus pandemic, combined with its onshore workforce needing to fill the gap, had hamstrung its ability to meet its obligations.
The telco with the next highest number of breaches was Optus on 1,998, consisting of 500 breaches for failing to supply an interim service, 568 breaches for failing to advise consumers about the interim service, and 695 breaches for failing to create an interim plan.
Of the 1,308 breaches recorded by TPG, 628 were for failing to supply an interim service, and 630 were for failing to advise consumers about the interim service.
Dodo recorded 584 breaches, mostly made up of failing to supply an interim service 385 times.
“Many Australians rely on phone and internet services for their work and home lives, and significant disruptions can have a heavy impact on their livelihoods and wellbeing,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.
“TPG, Optus, Dodo and Telstra have all let down these customers and effectively left them high and dry during the NBN migration.”
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said the telcos know the rules, and ACMA may need to keep a closer eye on them.
“It is very disappointing that they have failed their customers by leaving them without a working internet service,” ACCAN director of policy Una Lawrence said.
“To have over 8,000 total breaches of NBN service continuity rules is simply unacceptable.”
ACMA said it has the option to take the telcos to court if they fail to comply with the undertakings.