ACMA warns smaller telcos have until April 1 to comply with new code

Small businesses operating in the telco sector have been warned: the industry regulator is keen to make sure all SMEs are operating by the industry’s new code and is starting to crack down.

Although there has been plenty of scrutiny placed on larger telcos about adhering to the code, there hasn’t been so much attention placed on smaller players. But Australian Communications and Media Authority consumer interests manager Alan Chalmers says the regulator is still looking.

Larger businesses will be undergoing an audit, but smaller telcos need to report their compliance to ACMA manually by April 1.

“Each provider is required to report to a new organisation about the communication compliance in a prescribed format,” he says. “It’s about ticking off the major elements of the code to make sure they are compliant.”

New elements of the code include changes to billing procedures to make complex payment methods clearer for consumers. But one big change is the “critical information summaries” which telcos must offer their consumers. The summaries are a two-page document giving important information on a particular product.

The information summaries were due to start being distributed earlier this month. Chalmers says businesses need to be up to speed, including their administration.

Businesses need to check off every change in the code applying to them and then hand that information to ACMA. Smaller businesses, Chalmers says, may not have everything in order yet.

“Critical information summaries and compliance lists are completely new requirements, so your average telco probably hasn’t done these sorts of things before.”

“It’s a new task, and a new task always requires a bit of work.”

This misunderstanding of what businesses need to do under the code is becoming a problem. Christiane Gillespie-Jones, executive director of the Communications Compliance group, told The Australian today smaller businesses were having troubles.

“In our conversations with those providers it became clear that they had not quite understood the obligations (often with regards to data unit pricing) but were keen to make the required amendments once we had provided guidance,” she said.

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