Government sets new penalties for telco consumer safeguard breaches

Government sets new penalties for telco consumer safeguard breaches

Includes USO payphone performance benchmark and retail CSG performance benchmark

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has deployed a set of rigid infringement notice penalties for key telecommunications consumer safeguards breaches.

The new penalties include the Universal Service Obligation (USO) payphone performance benchmark and retail customer service guarantee performance (CSG) benchmark.

According to Senator Conroy, complying with performance benchmarks is crucial and the consequence of failing to meet them carries a substantial financial penalty.

“However, the Government has adopted graduated penalties, as suggested by a number of stakeholders, to provide appropriate incentives for service providers to maximise their compliance with these key benchmarks,” he said.

The Telecommunications (Infringement Notice Penalties) Determination 2012 graduated scale of infringement notice penalties in relation to CSG and USO performance benchmarks include:

· $330,000 where a benchmark is missed by less than two percentage points · $660,000 where a benchmark is missed by two percentage points or more but less than five percentage points, and · $990,000 where a benchmark has been missed by five percentage points or more.

The Minister has also fixed infringement notice penalties (ranging between $22,000 to $99,000) for the breach of other regulatory requirements related to the CSG, location and removal of payphones, and marketing of premium-priced mobile services.

“In its submission, the ACCAN suggested that a higher penalty could be considered where a telecommunications provider does not comply with the TIO scheme in accordance with section 132 of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999,” Senator Conroy said.

The Government is currently in discussion with the ACMA if it should implement additional provisions regarding the TIO scheme, which the ACMA considers should be listed as infringement notice penalties.

The Government has also not yet responded to stakeholder suggestion of lowering infringement penalties if benchmarks are not met in rural and remote parts of Australia.

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