We have developed consumer safeguards so phone companies supply reliable phone services. We also have rules to protect the needs of people with disabilities and people with life-threatening medical conditions.
These safeguards are:
- the Universal Service Obligation
- the Customer Service Guarantee
- the Network Reliability Framework
- Priority Assistance.
The Telecommunications Ombudsman, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), and ultimately the courts assess complaints about how well phone companies uphold these safeguards.
Access for everyone—the Universal Service Obligation
The Universal Service Obligation is a long-standing consumer protection that makes sure everyone, regardless of where they live or work, can access landlines and payphones.
Phones that work—Customer Service Guarantee
The Customer Service Guarantee is a standard that all companies must meet when providing phone services. It sets out how long they have to connect a new service, fix faults quickly (or provide an interim service), and keep appointments. A company that doesn't meet a standard must compensate affected customers. This is usually done through a credit on the customer's bill. You are able to waive your rights under the Customer Service Guarantee, provided certain safeguards are met. This may mean providers can offer more choice, such as lower prices.
The aim of the Customer Service Guarantee is to encourage phone companies to provide a reasonable service. They can ask for an exemption if an extreme event, such as a natural disaster or extreme weather conditions, makes it impossible for them to meet the standards.
The ACMA manages the Customer Service Guarantee.
A network that works—the Network Reliability Framework
Telstra needs to start to fix phone services that have more than three faults in 60 days, or more than four faults in 365 days. The aim is for Telstra to identify and resolve the cause of recurring faults
Telstra reports publicly every month on the performance of its telephone network. These reports are available from Telstra's Network Reliability Framework for fixed voice services page.
Telstra reports on its network performance to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on individual phone services and more regional network faults. The ACMA keeps a close eye on these reports and it can direct Telstra to fix regional faults
Looking after people with medical conditions—Priority Assistance
Telstra's Priority Assistance service is for anyone who depends on their phone because of a diagnosed life-threatening medical condition. Other phone companies can also provide priority assistance services to their customers. Priority Assistance customers will receive the highest possible response time if faults occur with their phone.
Phone companies must either offer Assistance for customers with medical conditions or tell their customers where they can get them.
Transferring telephones to the national broadband network
We manage a contract with Telstra for the provision of basic in-premises cabling for eligible voice-only customers, to ensure their voice service continues to operate over the national broadband network (NBN). The contractual arrangements for in-premises cabling were established under the Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) rollout model. With the introduction of NBN Co’s (nbn’s) Multi Technology Mix (MTM) work is underway to update the arrangements to facilitate the provision of voice-only services under these new technologies.
Monitoring and reporting
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) monitors the performance of telephone companies and reports the results annually.
The information helps people choose their phone company. It also helps the Australian Government confirm that the industry is providing levels of service that meet community expectations, and to identify the need for remedial action where this is not the case.