CHOICE membership

Telecommunications Customer Service Guarantee


#81

Meanwhile, in the regions:


#82

Thanks for sharing this @Drop_Bear, I’ve passed it onto my colleagues working on NBN issues.


#83

Anyone expecting the old CSG provisions to be migrated to the new USO should keep a lookout for flying pigs near their property lol. I’m certain that in the fine print of the USO it will all be about “financially viable” and “customer choice”. I fully expect that any guarantee will only say that the customer must have access to a service if they so choose to connect, not that a service must be provided. It will also state in some way that any guaranteed timeline of repair to a service is only if the customer is willing to pay for said expedited repair, not that the carrier will pay.

The old CSG was a dead instrument walking anyway with the law being a blunt instrument. Even though “standard telephone” was supposed to cover any voice communication, even a half decent barrister could carry the argument that VOIP could at this stage not be considered “standard” due to the nature of the beast. Unfortunately the only real hope that we would have had for a fair and reasonable replacement covering modern technology models would have been one written by an independent body with experts covering the technology mix having a seat at the table - never gonna happen lol.

This all boils down to the country we have become. A country of people who are easily spooked by “you’ll pay more” scare campaigns - “Vote for us and we’ll do it much cheaper for you”, “Vote for us because privatising the electricity/telecommunications/water/gas/lotteries will make it cheaper for you in the long term”. That’s why it was soooo easy for Malcolm Turnfullobull to convince voters that cheaper NBN was better lol. Australia couldn’t afford a real NBN, we needed to cut corners where we could to keep the price down. Wonder if voters would feel the same way if that attitude was taken when it came to bridges, train lines, air traffic systems, etc. Some may argue that’s already the case lol.

Australian governments will now sell any decision on the "cost’ basis, not the “benefit” or “investment” basis. They all now believe that the Australian voter is not able to process long term thinking when it comes to policy decisions and they are probably right for the the most part - vote for a tax cut anyone? The 3 year election cycle has just become a cynical 3 year election campaign, and I fear that it will be a very long time before we have any leadership in this country again. As a voter though that’s my fault because I’m a part of the reason our system has turned out like this - home of the 3 word slogan and no real policy debate.

Will the bush/regional areas get dudded by the new telecommunications system as it’s getting rolled out now? Absolutely without a doubt because it’s not being viewed as an “investment” or “benefit”, it’s purely looked at through the window of “cost”. Until that mindset changes SNAFU continues lol.


#84

The Federal Government has released their telecommunications safeguards review.

Presumably Choice will peruse the report with a toothcomb and provide the Government with their comments.


#85

The USG page has been substantially updated:


#86

From the link.

While USG will retain payphone services, there will be careful examination of payphone locations, as the uptake of mobile services has grown.

Funny that, in the UK there are public phones all over, even to the remote regions of the Shetlands. Maybe the UK is not as advanced as we are in uptake for mobile, but nothing like the government touting its own failure (the NBN) as a success (that we can pay our own way and go mobile).

In addition to the USG, consumers also have the option of using Australia’s world class mobile services, with coverage rapidly expanding under the Government’s $220 million Mobile Black Spot Program. To date, over 600 mobile base stations have been switched on under the program, and the rollout of the NBN network is nearly complete, outside of major urban areas.


#87

A Regulation Impact Statement was prepared by the Department of Communications and the Arts, and has been assessed as compliant and consistent with best practice by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. No change in annual regulatory burden is anticipated given the current USO arrangements will remain in place.

https://ris.pmc.gov.au/2018/12/12/establishing-telecommunications-universal-service-guarantee


#88

Another take-out from the same summary linked by @n3m0

The analysis showed that while savings could be made in the delivery of voice services using new technologies in rural and remote areas, moving away from the existing copper and wireless networks in nbn’s fixed wireless and satellite areas,.

at this time,

would create concerns for rural and remote customers and counter‑balancing costs for NBN Co.

“at this time” is perhaps open ended speak for ”until after the coming election”?

The detailed documents linked in the government’s release note the current copper line CSG contract with Telstra expires in 2032.

The recommendations advocate the fixed line voice services in all NBN fixed wireless and satellite service areas may no longer be required due to extensive mobile coverage.

Further recommendations include that all needs for voice in these areas could be provided in the future by VOIP. The recommendations are that this option should continue to be evaluated given the end date of the current CSG and implied need to commit/adopt the change before this end date.

Other comments supported commercial delivery of all voice services. It was noted there may be a need for subsidising the upfront installation costs in some instances for customers in satellite and fixed wireless coverage areas requiring voice only services. The uptake of broadband across these service areas according to the NBN Co is only 50%.


#89

This month I found the “sign away you CSG rights” on iinet website. Interesting that during multiple phone calls and emails with iinet and NBN Co over the last 14 months no one from either company has actually said I have to waive my CSG rights, nor have they pointed me to where statement abot it is buried in their website/s.

Q1. If the waiver is not on the documents they send you, can they still refer to it?

Q2. As it is a legal requirement imposed by federal legislation on telecommunications carriers and companies, how can a company waive it? Federal government has said it will look at updating the legislation re CSG rights sometime in the future (2019, 2020, ?), but until they do that the current law is still the law.


#90

They can ask you to waive it and if you want to use their RSP connection you have to accept the waiver. Telstra still have CSG & USO obligations for phone connections and the USG is somewhat OK in it’s coverage but the CSG is fast approaching it’s death knell.

The law allows the waiving but you have to agree, and when the paperwork arrives it has the CSG waiver details in it and you can cancel with no penalty in the cool off period (7 days I think).


#91

We have two separate services with Westnet/iinet.

Both have been upgraded or amended in the previous 18 months.
P.s. it was only mentioned as we were about to go to the confirmation recording, not up front!
In both instances we were required to accept a change to the CSG. The change excluded application of the CSG to the ADSL data services.

The blurb as I heard it:
Effectively the copper line in each instance is now only assured for conventional voice service, (Telstra lines) where previously a fault that affected the ADSL performance was also covered. This is due to the new NBN which is replacing the old copper phone services!

Not sure how customers on a defective or noisy NBN copper FTTN VDSL connection might respond as their speeds fall?


#92

I was starting to get confused between various guarantees and obligtions so went back to basics (what do the “in force” legislation, regulation, standard say?)

Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) is laid out in Sections 113 to 125 of Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999
Under the Act S 115, 117 and 120 there is the standard: Telecommunications (Customer Service Guarantee) Standard 2011. Part 5 of this standard discusses “Waiver of protection and rights by customers” - “this part does not apply in relation to … service supplied in fulfilment of the universal service obligation.”
.
Act section 115 Perfomance standards
Act section 117 Scale of damages for breach of performance standards
Act section 120 Waiver of CSG
Act section 120 (6) A waiver must not be set out in a standard form of agreement formulated by a carriage service provider for the purposes of section 479 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.
Act section 120 (7) a customer is not entitled to waive … the customer’s protection and rights under this Part … if the service is … (a) in fulfilment of the universal service obligation; or (b) in compliance with the obligations under a contract entered into under section 14 for a purpose relating to … policy objective set out in paragraph 13(1)(a); or ( c ) in compliance with the terms & conditions of a grant made under section 14 for a purpose relating to … policy objective set out in paragraph 13(1)(a).

13(1)(a) of the Act says “that standard telephone services are to : (i) be reasonably accessible to all people in Australia on an equitable basis …; and (ii) be supplied to people in Australia on request”

section 14 of the Act is about Commonwealth contracts and grants of financial assistance for a purpose relating to … any or all of the policy objectives in this Division.

Telecommunications Act 1997
Section 497 When inquiry may be held
(1) This section applies if the ACCC considers that it is appropriate and practicable to hold a public inquiry under this Division about a matter relating to the ACCC’s telecommunications functions and powers.
(2) The ACCC may hold such an inquiry about the matter.

Universal Service Obligation (USO) is laid out in Sections 9 to 12EI of Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999
USO is about equity; the object of the USO is to ensure that:

  • the standard telephone service; and
  • payphones; and
  • prescribed carriage services; and
  • digital data services
    are reasonably accessible to all Australians on an equitable basis, wherever they reside or carry on business.

5 December 2018: federal government announced proposed new Universal Service Guarantee (USG) that will replace the USO (no date specified).
It will be a guarantee to provide " all Australian homes and businesses with access to both broadband and voice services, regardless of their location."
“The new guarantee will give Australians guaranteed access to broadband as well as voice services, while ensuring current fixed telephone and payphone services are maintained in rural and remote areas.”
NOTE: I could find no mention of carriers, providers or retailers being able to ask customers to waive the new USG when it comes into effect.

My thoughts: as NBN Co is subject of Commonwealth contracts/grants for purposes of the policy objectives in Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999, this would suggest that a customer cannot be asked to waive their rights & protection under USO/USG for services provided using NBN Co as the carrier etc.

Links:
Telecommunications Act 1997 (in force) https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2018C00495

Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 (in force)
https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2016C00474

Telecommunications (Customer Service Guarantee) Standard 2011 (in force)
https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2011C00791

USG


#93

Currently Telstra is the business that is required to supply the obligations under USO. $297 Million a year is what they receive to do so and this cost is partly/mostly borne by a levy on all Telecom companies. So if you require USO support you must use Telstra, no other telecom is required to give that support.

CSG is a similar outcome in that any company can accept CSG responsibilities but for certain products which are considered not the normal way of telecommunications (normally they are termed “novel” approaches eg VOIP) can ask a client to waive those responsibilities. If a prospective client refuses to accept a waiver then the company then says they cannot supply the client and therefore no contract exists. Telstra however currently cannot ask a client to waive the CSG under the old non NBN system. Under the NBN system they can and do give a guarantee that only refunds the 1st month of a NBN service when a client is not satisfied:

https://www.telstra.com.au/support/category/broadband/nbn/nbn-satisfaction-guarantee

USG provides that the client will be able to receive a Broadband service (no detail of what type under the NBN so could be satellite or Fixed Wireless even in an area covered by FTTP) and that they can have a voice communications service (if supplied by anything other than satellite or fixed wireless this will be by VOIP and NOT by copper). Obligation is thus met. Telstra again are being looked at to be the USG provider but I have no solid information on at what stage negotiations or contracts are.

There has been a review of the USG by the Dept of Communications that has been ongoing for sometime and public submissions were welcome (I did post a link elsewhere to this in the forum). This review has been completed and the report has been finalised, I am guessing the Govt of the day will respond and determine what they will accept and what they will consider and what they will drop. Some of the review looked at payphones, USO type provisions and Senator Mitch Fifield has stated that the USO obligations will be continued to be met by Telstra and that the Broadband commitment will be met by the NBN unless the ADSL service is the best cost proposition in remote and rural areas (this affects about 240,000 customers).

If you would like to read the report the link to the pdf is:

https://www.communications.gov.au/file/47537/download?token=F7BDbtQa

So what you get is not some rock solid and great outcome but rather more of the same less than desirable status quo.