New rules prevent telcos from stuffing up your switch to the NBN

Additional safeguards in place for consumers migrating to the NBN come into effect on September 21.

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced a raft of new legislation that aims to provide additional clarity and protection for consumers looking to switch to the NBN

A draft of the new rules was first announced by ACMA in April as a response to 12 months of research that demonstrated over one in 10 residential households were left without internet for more than a week and around 50 percent of consumers were unsure of the speed they required to meet their needs. 

Now, two big changes are coming: The Service Continuity Standard and the Service Migration Determination.

Together, the new standards will ensure that migration to the NBN does not leave customers without service for extended periods of time. It will require service providers to manage the migration much better and ensure a "smooth transition to the NBN."

A vast majority of users will be signing up to the NBN using the Fibre to the Node, Fibre to the Building or Fibre to the Curb infrastructure. These users are covered by the Service Migration Determination, which requires the service provider to conduct tests to ensure the NBN service is operational and confirm that the copper network can support the speed tier in their plan. Additionally, if you're left without service during a move, it's up to the service provider to ensure you can get working internet. 

Further to this, the Consumer Information Standard 2018 outlines more rules across three key areas:

  1. Service providers must give consumers a free Key Facts Sheet before they sign up to an NBN contract.
    The one-page sheet must be prominently displayed on the service providers website and easily accessible. It must detail a range of information including maximum speeds during peak periods, when those periods occur and what happens during a power outage. 
  2. In advertising, speed and usage information must be clearly laid out.
    Service providers are required to detail the maximum possible speed available during off-peak periods, the "typical busy period download speed" and when it applies to the service and provide a guide that allows consumers to tell what kind of activity their speed tier enables. Fixed line NBN connections will no longer be able to use terms like "up-to."
  3. Service providers must ask if the consumer has a medical alarm service or security alarm service.
    It's up to the provider to ensure that consumers are aware of the potential incompatability of their medical alarm services or security alarm services with the NBN. 

A fourth key area of the Standard outlines that service providers must keep records for a minimum of two years and make those records available to ACMA upon request.

The migration to the NBN has been messy for many, to put it kindly. The HFC rollout was paused in November 2017. In the past, there's been more than a few occasions where misleading NBN advertising has caught consumers off-guard. Complaints are up -- like really, really up-- as more and more users become connected to the service across the country.

Although the new rules chiefly affect carrier service providers, an NBN Co spokesperson told CNET the company is "committed to working alongside industry to help improve the customer service experience for those connecting to the NBN access network."

So with additional safeguards in place to reduce confusion and ensure users aren't left blowing out their data allowances on 4G networks, perhaps NBN Co can start to turn a corner. 

The new rules come into effect on September 21, 2018.

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