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New telco consumer code starts tomorrow: Four things SMEs need to know

With a new code set to begin tomorrow affecting how the telecommunications industries will advertise and offer new products, it's time for SMEs to get a reminder about how they'll be affected.

Although most of the new laws affect both individuals and consumers, there are some key points businesses need to know about given they may not have access to some benefits.

The code is meant to clear up some confusing points in telco advertising, and as the Australian Communications and Media Authority attests, should make it easier to buy telco services.

"Under the new code, telco providers must be clear about what they are offering in their phone plans and stop using confusing terms like 'cap' (unless the offer refers to a 'hard cap'—an amount that cannot be exceeded)."

Here are a four key points businesses should know about the new code:

1. Usage alerts are only for individuals, not businesses

Telcos now have to tell users when they reach certain points in their caps, either through emails or text messages. It's a way to clamp down on bill shock.

But businesses don't have this option right now. Telcos could introduce it in the future, but don't automatically assume you'll receive them. That means if you're on a business plan for a phone, you should still keep an eye on your usage.

2. Critical information summaries will be introduced next year

Not everything in the new code will be introduced straight away.

The critical information summaries – two-page summaries of different plans and features – won't be available until March 2013. So don't go into a store and demand them just yet.

3. A cap is really a cap

Telcos advertise plans right now as "caps" but that doesn't mean the plan is limited at that purchase price. Under the new code, any plan that uses the word "cap" actually has to be a cap and stop you spending more than that amount.

This is important for business users because they tend to vary month to month on the amount of services they use. So if you're searching for a business deal and you're buying a cap, keep in mind telcos will be using that word literally from now on.

4. And unlimited is really unlimited

From now on, unlimited services mean that you have unlimited services. Any other plan will need to be detailed in full about what restrictions are placed on your access.


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Engel Schmidl

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