Monday, November 16, 2009

Australia - Minister threatens to introduce regulation to address inadequate service levels

[itwire] Government would have little choice but to introduce new regulations for the telecommunications sector if service levels did not improve, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told the Senate today.

Huge increases in complaints across mobile, landline and internet services reported by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman last week were "an absolute shocker," Senator Conroy said.

"This is simply not good enough. The Government is not sitting on its hands while the telco industry continues to treat its consumers with contempt," said during Senate Question Time.

"I have put the industry on clear public notice. The Government will have little choice but to regulate if the situation does not improve."

The TIO reported in Friday that the number of complaints from consumers and small businesses for 2008-09 had grown to 230,065, a 54 per cent increase over the previous financial year.

Though the biggest increase in complaints related to mobile phone services, Senator Conroy said a large number of the complaints were for fixed line and internet services, and pointed to the inadequacy of the existing regulatory framework as one of the problems.

A suite of regulatory reforms passed by the House and likely to be considered by the Senate this week would "see competition in the telecommunications sector improve and consumers and businesses will benefit through lower prices."

"Every day we delay these reforms is a day we fail to start to claw back the poor customer service levels and service quality performance in telecommunications across Australia," Senator Conroy said.

Conroy threatens industry over TIO 'shocker'

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