01 October 2017

NBN Governance

The first report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network notes governance concerns and features the following recommendations.
R 1  that the  Government direct and enable nbn to complete as much as possible of the remaining fixed line network using FTTC at a minimum (or FTTP), and require nbn to produce a costed plan and timetable under which that would be achieved.
R 2 in light of recent results and developments, that the Australian Government commission an independent audit and assessment of the long-term assumptions underpinning nbn's financial projections and business case as set out in the Corporate Plan 2018-21.
R 3  that the  Government direct nbn to establish a regional and remote reference group to support the rollout of the NBN in rural and remote Australia. The reference group would include consumer advocate groups and departmental representation from the Department of Communications and the Arts and the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. Business decisions that fundamentally change the nbn experience for the end user in regional and remote communities should be referred to the reference group for consideration and analysis as to whether the decision will result in nbn not meeting its responsibilities as outlined in the Statement of Expectations.
R 4 that the Government ensure by appropriate regulation that end users are informed of, or can easily access and are directed to, clear information about the maximum attainable layer 2 speed of their NBN infrastructure/service on a per premise basis.
R 5 that nbn develop and implement a framework that ensures best-practice installation as part of an 'active handover' model, with reference to the approach of Chorus NZ, so that each premise is assured of network capability at the point it is ready-for-service, and repeat visits and remedial costs are avoided.
R 6   that nbn review and provide advice to the committee on how it:
  • takes into consideration the added complexity and time requirements of installations to Service Class 0 and Service Class 10 premises, or equivalent areas, when calculating its progress towards completion goals; and 
  • prioritises connections to areas that currently have no access to internet.
R 7  that the Australian Government require nbn to identify and disclose all areas that are currently designated to be served by a satellite connection that previously were set to receive the NBN by FTTN or fixed wireless, and explain why the change has occurred.
R 8 that the Australian Government require nbn to develop a plan that would provide access to nbn's fixed wireless towers for the provision of mobile telephony.
R 9 that the Australian Government ask nbn to consider providing the capacity for separate business and residential Sky Muster plans to be made available at the same location when business grade plans are introduced in 2018.
R 10 that the  Government set a benchmark for reasonable data allowance on Sky Muster plans, by reference to average data use across the fixed line network.
R 11  that the  Government ask nbn to establish a rural and regional reference group (see recommendation 3) and that nbn consult on Sky Muster services and changes to policy and rollout plans.
R 12   that the regulation of broadband wholesale services be overhauled to establish clear rights and protections for suppliers and end users of NBN broadband services. This framework should include: service connection and fault repair timeframes; minimum network performance and reliability; and compensation arrangements when these standards are not met. The committee requests that the Department brief the committee on progress in developing these protections by December 2017.
R 13  that nbn and RSPs develop business grade products specifically designed for the small business market which provide service guarantees and remedies. The committee requests that nbn and the Communications Alliance report back to the committee on progress in developing these products by December 2017.
R 14  that the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code be amended to require that customers lodging a complaint with their retail service provider are specifically made aware of external dispute resolution options including the Telcommunications Industry Ombudsman at the time they initially lodge the complaint.
R 15  that the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman be empowered to compel any relevant parties to a complaint to meet together or otherwise cooperate in order to facilitate the resolution of that complaint within a set reasonable timeframe.
R 16 that the  Government direct nbn to clearly identify the complaint handling process for consumers, including: complaint resolution processes and timeframes, and internal and external complaint escalation processes. This information must be provided by nbn in a way that meets Australian Government accessibility guidelines.
R 17  that the  Communications and Media Authority develop and introduce an updated Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code that specifically addresses issues raised in relation to customer experiences with NBN services. This should include mandatory, enforceable standards to regulate the marketing of broadband speeds, in line with the recent principles and industry guidance released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The updated instrument must ensure that end users have rights and accessible procedures to enforce those rights.
R 18 that the ACMA consider introducing an updated statutory determination, applicable to all NBN technology types, to require retail service providers to inform customers of any critical service issues and line impairments to ensure the customer has understood these issues, prior to a service commencing.
R 19  that nbn publish prominently on its website, monthly information relating to its end user satisfaction metrics, including:
  • its overall net promoter score as measured each month; 
  • the overall net promoter score for each technology type as measured each month; 
  • relevant disaggregated information about end user satisfaction metrics in relation to each RSP; and 
  • any relevant disaggregated information about end user satisfaction metrics in specific geographic areas, such as: 
  • data broken down by state and territory; and 
  • data relating to each fixed-line area in the rollout footprint, as areas are designated Ready for Service.
R 20 that the scope, function, and operation of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) be expanded so that, among other improvements determined through the current review process, the TIO should keep data according to technology type, and should record and report multiple issues as separate items, especially where nbn and an RSP are both involved.
R 21 that the Department of Communications and the Arts publish the data it receives from nbn as part of its monthly reporting regime, including data relating to:
  • network fault restoration; 
  • service fault restoration; 
  • connection performance, such as right first time activations; and 
  • activities undertaken in accordance with service level agreement.
R 22 that nbn review and provide advice to the committee on its processes and conduct with regard to the engagement, training, coordination and dispute resolution with subcontractors, in accordance with global best-practice.
R 23  that the  Government ensure that digital inclusion is measured and reported. It has been suggested that the Productivity Commission assess and report on income and wealth inequality in Australia, and it may be worth including the measurement and reporting of digital inequality, as the two areas are likely to be increasingly related.