IAA submitted to Home Affair’s Strengthening Australia’s cyber security regulations and incentives paper. In our submission, we highlighted the complexity of existing cybersecurity legislation, especially for smaller ISPs to navigate. We commented on suggested mechanisms which could promote the uptake of cybersecurity, including minimum standards for personal information and health checks for small businesses. We called on Home Affairs to collaboratively engage with relevant industry stakeholders throughout the process of drafting cybersecurity regulation or processes.

IAA supported the extension of the Wholesale ADSL to 20 June 2024 in our recent submission to the ACCC. We raised the point that WADSL as continues to be prominent in rural, regional and remote areas, it needs to be provisioned for.

We also expressed our perspective on ACMA’s Statement of Expectations (SoE) for the Telecommunications Industry with regards to vulnerable consumers. We extended our support to the SoE, however, highlighted that for smaller ISPs, some objectives and examples regarding financial hardship and customer service would be difficult to meet because of resource constraints.

The ACCC published updated Non-Discrimination Guidelines for the telecommunications sector, a process we responded to in June. In the new Guidelines, the ACCC will assess whether NBN Co or access providers have acted in a discriminatory manner by conducting an explicit or implicit discrimination test. A quick summary of how this process will work is available here.

 

September’s Advocacy Corner Update

Submissions that may be of interest to members include:

Review of Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Violent Abhorrent Violent Material) (AVM) Act 2019 | 15 October 2021 

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement is enquiring into the effectivity of the AVM Act 2019, which was passed following the Christchurch terrorist attack. The AVM Act enforces that internet, hosting or content services proactively need to communicate to law enforcement that abhorrent violent material is accessible on their networks and work to ensure it is inaccessible in Australia. This inquiry will specifically focus on whether the AVM Act has helped reduce the misuse of online platforms, whether the powers given to the eSafety Commissioner and the federal police are appropriate and consider the definition of ‘violent abhorrent material.’ 

Telstra Migration Plan | 21 October 2021 

Telstra submitted a proposed variation to the ACCC adjusting the plan for the shutdown of legacy copper services occurring as part of the migration to NBN. Changes include amendments to the management disconnection arrangements in unit common areas, to differentiate between private and public payphones, to expand Telstra’s authority for reconnecting copper or hybrid fibre coaxial services if required and to extend for managed disconnections for premises not serviceable by NBN yet. After submissions close, the ACCC will make a decision on the proposed changes offered by Telstra.   

If you have any comments or would like to find additional information about the above, please email us at policy@internet.asn.au

 

As an organisation with a proud heritage deep-seated in advocacy, we are pleased to share our most recent submissions:

If you have any comments or would like to find additional information about the above, please email us at policy@internet.asn.au

 

August’s Advocacy Corner Update

Submissions that may be of interest to members include:

ACCC| Wholesale ADSL Service Declaration | 10 Sept

The ACCC is proposing to continuing to declare Wholesale ADSL until 2024. Their view is that postponing this date will promote competition by aligning the expiry to the declaration of other Telstra fixed line services which are also declared by the ACCC. We are in support of this stance as it will ensure continuing price certainty and performance standards while ADSL remains in service in some areas.

eSafety Office | Restricted Access System  | 12 Sept

eSafety is seeking views on a restricted access system (RAS)  which seeks to limit exposure of people under 18 to age-inappropriate content. A new RAS needs to be in place by January 2022 as part of the Online Safety Bill. The services which will be required to meet these requirements include Australian hosting providers, social media services, designated internet services and relevant electronic services, some of which aren’t as yet defined at all. Members with views on how this system should or could work, are welcome to get in touch.

Communications Alliance | Existing Customer Authentication Industry Code Draft | 20 Sept

Communications Alliance have published a draft Existing Customer Authentication Industry Code for review which seeks to provide a framework for customer authentication. For carriage service providers, this will entail having measures in place to verify a customer’s identity effectively and securely.

The Regional Telecommunications Review | 30 Sept

Every three years, the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee is appointed to conduct a review on status of telecommunications within regional, rural and remote Australia.  The issues this review will tackle include the impact of existing government policies, service reliability, emerging technologies and regional development.

If you have any comments or would like to find additional information about the above, please email us at policy@internet.asn.au

 

September’s Advocacy Corner Update

IAA submitted to Home Affair’s Strengthening Australia’s cyber security regulations and incentives paper. In our submission, we highlighted the complexity of existing cybersecurity legislation, especially for smaller ISPs to navigate. We commented on suggested mechanisms which could promote the uptake of cybersecurity, including minimum standards for personal information and health checks for small businesses. We called on Home Affairs to collaboratively engage with relevant industry stakeholders throughout the process of drafting cybersecurity regulation or processes. 

IAA supported the extension of the Wholesale ADSL to 20 June 2024 in our recent submission to the ACCC. We raised the point that WADSL as continues to be prominent in rural, regional and remote areas, it needs to be provisioned for.  

We also expressed our perspective on ACMA’s Statement of Expectations (SoE) for the Telecommunications Industry with regards to vulnerable consumers. We extended our support to the SoE, however, highlighted that for smaller ISPs, some objectives and examples regarding financial hardship and customer service would be difficult to meet because of resource constraints. 

The ACCC published updated Non-Discrimination Guidelines for the telecommunications sector, a process we responded to in June. In the new Guidelines, the ACCC will assess whether NBN Co or access providers have acted in a discriminatory manner by conducting an explicit or implicit discrimination test. A quick summary of how this process will work is available here 

August’s Advocacy Corner Update

We also made a submission responding to the Treasury’s Consumer Data Right (CDR) sectoral assessment for the telecommunications sector. In our submission, we extended our support for consumers to have a right to their own data to make informed choices, but argued that mechanisms already exist which facilitate that well. We highlighted that the CDR may add to existing compliance requirements for ISPs, and as a by-product limit competition within the telecommunications sector. We also called for the timeframe for consultation on the CDR to be extended, to ensure meaningful collaboration between government and industry can occur throughout this process.

August’s Advocacy Corner Update

IAA is participating in the working group that is developing the Building Block Model (BBM) underpinning the financials for the review of NBN Co’s standard access undertaking (SAU). This process will see us working collectively with the ACCC, NBN Co, RSPs and the Department of Communications to discuss and consider a revised BBM which accounts for accumulated losses, investments and ongoing expenditure. We have also been involved in the working group associated with developing the overall regulatory framework for the SAU.

Last month, we submitted a response to NBN Co’s SAU Variation discussion paper, in which we supported the concept of a flat-pricing model while opposing the idea of price control through embedded annual price rises. We supported NBN Co’s inclusion of the multi-technology mix (ie HFC and FTTN) within the SAU and recommended that NBN Co should think about how information on service standards for various technologies could be made available to RSPs.

July’s Advocacy Corner Update

Submissions which may be of interest to our members include:  

ACMA has an open consultation for their Statement of Expectations for Consumer Vulnerability. The purpose of this is to outline expectations for how the telecommunications industry should support vulnerable consumers, especially in the areas of internal business practices, selling and contracting, customer service, financial hardship and disconnection. This stems from ACMA’s efforts in ensuring telecommunication providers comply with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, especially for supporting vulnerable consumers.  

Home Affairs released a discussion paper on Strengthening Australia’s cyber security regulations and incentiveswhich focuses on how to make Australia’s digital economy more resilient from lower sophisticated cyber threats. The paper focuses on the sectors not covered by the sector-specific legislation, particularly on the ways stronger incentives can be created for Australian businesses to invest in and improve their cybersecurity. Home Affairs proposes this can be addressed by setting clear minimum expectations for businesses managing cyber security risks, providing clearer information about the security of technology practices and clear legal remedies for consumers after a cyber security incident. It might run to certification schemes or even extending consumer guarantees and rights for demonstrably insecure IoT equipment, for example. 

Treasury has begun its sectoral assessment to decide whether the Consumer Data Rights (CDR) should extend to the telecommunications sector. The CDR is a reform which gives consumers a right to consent to data held about them by Australian businesses being shared with accredited third parties, so they can directly access benefits such as having access to better value or personalised products/ services. This process will seek to understand what should be considered ‘telecommunications data’, who holds that data and what data should be designated and shared securely when a customer requests it. Hopefully it will assist consumers in transferring between providers, making the market more contestable by smaller ISPs. 

If you would like more information on any of the above, or to express your thoughts, please reach out via policy@internet.asn.au. 

July’s Advocacy Corner Update

Following the SAU roundtable last month hosted by the ACCC, we sent through a written submission responding to questions posed. In our submission, we advocated for price controls that provide certainty for RSPs, encourages competition within the telecommunications sector and is in the long-term interest of end users.  

We have also put our hand up to participate in working groups as part of the NBN Special Access Undertaking (SAU) process, and see this as an increasing focus for us in the coming months. As ever, if you have a point of view on NBN regulation and performance, let us know. 

Non-Discrimination Guidelines

Non-discrimination provisions are important for ensuring a fair and competitive telecommunications sector. We recently sent through a submission on the ACCC’s proposed Non-Discrimination Guidelines, derived from the Telecommunications Act 1997 and Competition and Consumer Act 2010. In our submission, we support the concept of non-discrimination provisions but note that exemptions (such as the creditworthiness test) can be used as a mechanism to unfairly discriminate against smaller access seekers. We also recommended a more reader-centric and accessible structure to the guidelines, so the document is less complex and more easily understood.

 

ACCC Roundtable on the SAU

IAA was invited to participate in the ACCC and NBN Co roundtable which kickstarted the process to develop a revised long-term regulatory framework for the NBN. The existing Special Access Undertaking (SAU) was established in 2013 and only covers fibre-to-the-premises services. A key focus of the roundtable discussion was on price and revenue controls, specifically the current CVC pricing model.

NBN Co proposed three new pricing constructs:

  • Construct 1 is similar to the existing bundled products model, but with CVC charged at $6/Mbps instead of the $8/Mbps.
  • Construct 2 proposes regular bundles for 50Mbps and below with $5/month increases and flat-pricing AVC only model for products 100Mbps and above, with an immediate $5-$20/month hike and yearly indexed increases in prices.
  • Construct 3 proposes a flat-pricing AVC only model, with an immediate $5-$20/month hike and yearly indexed increases in prices.

Other proposed changes include incorporating the Multi-Technology Mix (MTM) within the SAU.

The ACCC raised potential measures guided by access arrangements supporting competitive retail service offerings, cost certainty to access seekers and reasonable opportunity for access providers to recoup costs and earn a return on investment. Potential measures the ACCC raised are similar to NBN Co’s new pricing constructs. Options include access provided at a fixed monthly price, access provided in product bundles in which CVC inclusions increase and/or CVC overage charges decrease regularly, or a combination of both. They also noted that measures ensuring cost certainty should not be undermined by overdependence on discounting practices. A minimum technical quality of service, such as a specified maximum tolerance for speed reductions and/or higher latency during busy hours should also potentially be considered.

We are eager to hear insights on which pricing construct members prefer and the impact they envision of each option on their speed tier mix, volume, product differentiation and operational processes. If you would like to learn more about the proposed pricing constructs or express your thoughts to guide our response, please reach out to policy@internet.asn.au.

 

Online Safety Bill – Industry Codes

The Online Safety Bill recently passed the Australian senate, which means it will become law within the next six months or so. The Bill establishes processes to force social media companies, internet service providers and hosting providers to act on removal notices regarding harmful content within 24 hours (instead of 48). The eSafety Commissioner is also provided with increased powers to require blocking URLs linking to abhorrent and/or violent material. Concerns have been raised about the range of powers provided to the eSafety Commissioner and the expansive coverage of the online service providers covered by the Act. Development of industry code(s) which foster a safe and transparent online environment as a part of the Bill is currently underway. IAA is actively engaging with the eSafety Office, online service providers and other industry associations to review this process.