ACMA agrees to reg­is­ter the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Code

On 11 July 2012, the Aus­tralian Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Media Author­i­ty (ACMA) agreed to reg­is­ter the new Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Code (TCP). Reg­is­tra­tion takes effect on 1 Sep­tem­ber 2012 with phased imple­men­ta­tion over 12 months.

The TCP is intend­ed to:

  • align the oblig­a­tions of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions providers under the Aus­tralian Con­sumer Law (ACL) and the TCP;
  • apply to all of the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor in Aus­tralia rather than a few key sig­na­to­ry participants;
  • pro­vide a stan­dard­ised régime across the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sector;
  • form the first step in coor­di­nat­ing the indus­try in prepa­ra­tion for the roll­out of the Nation­al Broad­band Net­work and the expect­ed leg­isla­tive over­haul in rela­tion to con­verged tech­nolo­gies; and
  • include com­mu­ni­ty safe­guards which were found to be lack­ing in ACMA’s 2011 pub­lic inquiry into the sec­tor, with many of ACMA’s rec­om­men­da­tions from its 2011 report (Recon­nect­ing the Cus­tomer) being incor­po­rat­ed into the revised TCP.

ACMA believes that the ben­e­fits will apply to both indus­try par­tic­i­pants and con­sumers alike.

Indus­try par­tic­i­pants will ben­e­fit from align­ment with the ACL and the TCP’s plain lan­guage, mean­ing that it will be eas­i­er to inter­pret, under­stand rights and imple­ment obligations.

Con­sumers should ben­e­fit from a range of enhanced require­ments in the TCP regard­ing adver­tis­ing, billing, expen­di­ture man­age­ment tools, finan­cial hard­ship arrange­ments, trans­fers between tel­co providers, stream­lined com­plaints han­dling and com­pli­ance. A new inde­pen­dent body, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­pli­ance, will be cre­at­ed to mon­i­tor the per­for­mance of tel­co providers in com­ply­ing with the TCP.

If you have any ques­tions, please con­tact Swaab Attorneys.