Archive for the ‘ISP and Telco Law’ Category
Friday, March 8th, 2013
The 2012 Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code was registered in September 2012, but thanks to a six month ramp up period it’s just starting to seriously impact Australian telco retailers.
The TCP Code, as it’s widely known, introduces a range of reforms designed to improve consumer satisfaction with telecommunications services. From 27 October last year, it mandated a form of unit pricing in advertising some telco plans, inspired by the unit pricing scheme that has applied in larger supermarkets for some years.
Telcos offering so-called ‘included value’ mobile plans are obliged to inform potential customers of the price of a two minute mobile call, the cost of an SMS and how much of their included value will be consumed by using a megabyte of data. ‘Included value’ plans are those where a monthly fee buys a higher amount of credit that can be applied to calls, messages or data usage.
Since 1 March 2013, it has also been obligatory for telcos to provide would-be customers with a two page summary of the key features and pricing of a plan, before they commit to buy. These ‘Critical Information Summaries’ are designed to provide clearer and more standardised information to customers, and to simplify the task of comparing various plans that may be under consideration.
Those are just two out of dozens of requirements imposed by the Code, and a newly created independent body called Communications Compliance has been charged with monitoring telco compliance with the new rules. By 1 April 2013, every telco that is subject to the TCP Code (and there may be as many of 1,000 of them) must file statements with the Code monitor attesting their Code compliance and listing the website location of the large amount of consumer and customer information that is now required to be provided on telco websites.
Standing behind the Code monitor is the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) as Code enforcer, with a range of sanctions available to it where education and encouragement fail to secure industry compliance. The ‘big stick’ here is a potential Federal Court penalty of $250,00 for failing to heed an ACMA direction to comply with the Code.
Cooper Mills is recognised as the premier legal adviser the 2012 Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code, and we have even established a dedicated website to support the industry’s compliance effort. Our innovative TCP Code Compliance Shop provides a rich set of expert compliance tools at a fraction of the cost of traditional legal advice.
Cooper Mills’ TCPCode.com.au website also offers news, analysis and commentary about the TCP Code, frequently updated.
The ACMA is already actively auditing telco compliance with the Code, even before the industry is due to file its compliance materials with Communications Compliance. We expect a busy time for telcos in the next few months as compliance laggards are identified and allowed short timeframes to get their business in order.
Friday, December 14th, 2012
Following weeks of intense lobbying and aggressive debate at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai, Australia has announced that it will not sign a revised international telecommunications treaty, over threats to the openness of the internet.
The west including Australia largely faced off against countries like Russia who sought to exert more controls over the internet.
In announcing Australia’s position, Communications Minister Senator Conroy today said:
“Australia’s consistent position has been that the internet should not be included in the ITRs. This is a point on which we would not compromise. Australia does not support any changes that would undermine the current multi-stakeholder model for internet governance or fundamentally change the way the internet operates. Australia believes that the approach taken by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN), which has input from industry stakeholders, governments and the public, remains the best way to sustain the internet’s growth and innovation. It remains Australia’s view that for the ITRs to be enduring and useful they should focus on the interconnection of international telecommunication networks.“
Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has today announced that it has changed the Telecommunications Numbering Plan 2007.
The three major changes are:
The most notable change is the introduction of the ’05′ prefix to new mobile numbers, which will supplement the existing ’04′ range of mobile numbers. This change has been driven by the ACMA’s prediction that an addition 100 million mobile numbers will be required over the next 20 years.
A copy of the Telecommunications Numbering Plan Variation 2012 is available for download.
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
ACMA has just announced that the new 2012 TCP Code will be registered, and will come into force on 1 September 2012.
This is a big deal for telco operators. ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman made the point in his media release:
This is … important … as the code will apply to every service provider in Australia. Compliance with the code is no longer an option. The ACMA obviously stands ready to use its powers of investigation and enforcement if participants choose not to comply with these new code obligations (which include an obligation to report their compliance performance to the industry’s new compliance monitoring body, Communications Compliance.)
Before 1 April 2013, every service provider’s CEO (or near equivalent) will need to provide written certification that their organisation complies with the 89 pages of rules in the new Code. It’s going to be a challenging seven months. But whether it’s painful or relatively simple will depend on how organised we all are.
To help, we’ve set up a site at www.tcpcode.com.au, where you’ll find a growing library of resources and commentary. I also attach a copy of our TCP Code Compliance Calendar that alerts you to the important dates along the compliance timeline.
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has announced that it is broadening its definition of small business by applying a new criteria to determining what a small business is.
Prior to 1 July 2012 the TIO largely dealt with consumers and also ‘small business’ customers, which until now has left many businesses outside the tent when it comes to TIO intervention.
From 1 July 2012, the TIO has announced that it will be applying the following criteria to determine what a small business is:
While the decision has been welcomed in some circles, some ISPs and Telcos have expressed their frustration that more customers will now come within the jurisdiction of the TIO. Critics claim that instead of operating as an independent party to facilitate a resolution of disputes, the TIO acts as a consumer advocate.
Friday, April 27th, 2012
Optus has today suspended its TV Now service, following a successful appeal against its earlier win in which the Federal Court had held that Optus was not liable for copyright infringement under the Copyright Act (Cth).
The case emerged from the Optus TV Now service which enabled Optus customers to record live TV and watch it at a later time, including AFL and ARL. The Court had earlier held that the action of recording was that of the customer and not Optus.
Optus now has 21 days in which to seek leave to appeal to the High Court.
More to follow.
Friday, April 20th, 2012
In a judgment handed down by the High Court today, the appeal by AFACT against iiNet’s earlier wins in the Federal and and Full Federal Court, has been dismissed.
In what is seen as a major blow for AFACT, who represents the heavy weights of the music and film industry, the High Court brought down a unanimous decision.
More to follow.
Monday, April 16th, 2012
ASX Listed M2 Communications has acquired Primus from US parent Primus Telecommunications Group (‘PTG’) in what is reported to be a $192.4 million deal.
It is reported that the transaction is not conditional on shareholder approval, and is due to complete in the second quarter of 2012.
The move comes amid restructuring by PTG of its Australian and Canadian businesses, while the purchase is yet another in M2′s strategic acquisitions, coming hot on the heels of its acquisition of Time Telecom earlier this year.
Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
The ACCC today (14 February 2012) announced that Telstra Wholesale ADSL services are now declared under an interim access determination.
The determination made under the Consumer and Competition Act 2010 has fixed the price Telstra can charge its wholesale ADSL customers, the effect of this is that wholesale customers are now benefiting from lower pricing.
The price reductions will see competitors such as iiNet better able to compete with Telstra’s retail product offering.
This will only serve to bring more scrutiny on NBN pricing and the benefits of cost effective ADSL services in the market place.
Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
National ISP iiNet has today (22 December 2011) announced the acquisition of competitor Internode in a $105 million deal.
The acquisition will see iiNet add a further 190,000 broadband DSL subscribers and 260,000 active services. Internode has forecast FY12 earnings of $180 million.
Internode founder and MD Simon Hackett will remain as part of the executive team at Internode.
The acquisition by iiNet will solidify its position as the second largest Australian ISP in the residential broadband DSL market.
The acquisition is due to be completed on 29 February 2012.