Telstra warned by regulator ACMA

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 27 May, 2019

Telstra warned by regulator ACMA

Telecommunications regulator ACMA has issued Telstra a formal warning for failing to comply with regulations governing the deployment of mobile base stations.

An investigation by ACMA in response to a complaint from a resident found that Telstra failed to meet the deployment code rules designed to provide local councils and communities an opportunity to provide input before a project to deploy mobile infrastructure commences.

The investigation found that Telstra did not fully comply with a consultation plan which required Telstra to contact residents in the immediate vicinity of the base station in question.

In addition, Telstra failed to send a letter containing this information to other interested and affected parties, and failed to acknowledge a written complaint from the resident within 10 business days of its receipt.

“There is public concern about the rollout of mobile infrastructure, including small cell base stations, in residential areas,” ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin commented.

“Telcos must keep affected communities in the loop and consider their feedback when establishing or upgrading mobile phone base stations.”

Telstra has agreed to take steps to prevent recurrence of such problems, such as implementing regular training for employees and contractors, and reviewing its contractor complaints handling procedures.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand competition regulator Commerce Commission has warned retail telecommunications operator Spark for what the regulator said was a likely breach of competition law.

The Commission accused the operator of failing to notify in-contract customers of their options related to a decision in the second half of 2018 to increase its DSL broadband prices by NZ$5 per month.

Spark’s own contractual terms stipulate that it will not change the monthly fees for in-contract customers without first either obtaining their consent or giving them the option to cancel their contract without paying early termination fees.

But this information was not clearly communicated to consumers, according to Commissioner Anna Rawlings, which is a likely breach of New Zealand’s Fair Trading Act.

“When communicating with customers about price increases, businesses need to clearly and accurately represent any contractual rights customers may have if they do not accept the price increase,” she said.

“Businesses must not create the impression that prices can be unilaterally increased if that is not permitted by the contract, or if consumers are not bound to accept the increase.”

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