Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Bill 1998

Part 1 P reliminary

   

1   Short title

                   This Act may be cited as the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 .

2   Commencement

             (1)  Subject to this section, this Act commences on the 28th day after the day on which it receives the Royal Assent.

             (2)  The following provisions of this Act commence on 1 July 1999:

                     (a)  the definition of approved universal service plan in subsection 5(2);

                    (aa)  the definition of approved digital data service plan in subsection 5(2);

                    (ab)  the definition of digital data service obligation in subsection 5(2);

                    (ac)  the definition of digital data service provider in subsection 5(2);

                    (ad)  the definition of draft digital data service plan in subsection 5(2);

                     (b)  the definition of draft universal service plan in subsection 5(2);

                    (ba)  the definition of general digital data service area in subsection 5(2);

                    (bb)  the definition of general digital data service obligation in subsection 5(2);

                    (bc)  the definition of general digital data service provider in subsection 5(2);

                     (c)  the definition of levy in subsection 5(2);

                     (d)  the definition of national universal service provider in subsection 5(2);

                     (e)  the definition of net cost area in subsection 5(2);

                      (f)  the definition of participating carrier in subsection 5(2);

                     (g)  the definition of regional universal service provider in subsection 5(2);

                    (ga)  the definition of special digital data service area in subsection 5(2);

                    (gb)  the definition of special digital data service obligation in subsection 5(2);

                    (gc)  the definition of special digital data service provider in subsection 5(2);

                     (h)  the definition of universal service obligation in subsection 5(2);

                      (i)  the definition of universal service provider in subsection 5(2);

                      (j)  Part 2;

                     (k)  Part 3.

3   Objects and regulatory policy

                   The following provisions of the Telecommunications Act 1997 apply to this Act in a corresponding way to the way in which they apply to that Act:

                     (a)  section 3 (objects);

                     (b)  section 4 (regulatory policy).

4   Simplified outline

                   The following is a simplified outline of this Act:

•      A universal service regime is established. The main object of the universal service regime is to ensure that all people in Australia, wherever they reside or carry on business, should have reasonable access, on an equitable basis, to:

               (a)     standard telephone services; and

               (b)     payphones; and

               (c)     prescribed carriage services; and

               (d)     digital data services.

•      Provision is made for the National Relay Service (NRS). The NRS provides persons who are deaf or who have a hearing and/or speech impairment with access to a standard telephone service on terms, and in circumstances, that are comparable to the access other Australians have to a standard telephone service.

•      Local calls are to be charged for on an untimed basis.

•      The ACA may make performance standards to be complied with by carriage service providers in relation to customer service.

•      Certain carriers and carriage service providers must enter into the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman scheme.

•      Provision is made for the protection of residential customers of carriage service providers against failure by the providers to supply standard telephone services.

•      The ACA may impose requirements on carriers, carriage service providers and certain other persons in relation to emergency call services.

•      Telstra is subject to price control arrangements.

•      This Act regulates telephone sex services.

•      The Minister may direct Telstra to take action directed towards ensuring that Telstra complies with this Act.

5   Definitions

             (1)  Unless the contrary intention appears, expressions used in this Act and in the Telecommunications Act 1997 have the same meaning in this Act as they have in that Act.

             (2)  In this Act:

approved digital data service plan means an approved digital data service plan under Division 4A of Part 2.

approved universal service plan means an approved universal service plan under Division 4 of Part 2.

digital data service obligation has the meaning given by section 19A.

digital data service provider means:

                     (a)  a general digital data service provider; or

                     (b)  a special digital data service provider.

draft digital data service plan means a draft digital data service plan under Division 4A of Part 2.

draft universal service plan means a draft universal service plan under Division 4 of Part 2.

general digital data service area has the meaning given by section 19B.

general digital data service obligation has the meaning given by section 19A.

general digital data service provider has the meaning given by section 26A.

levy means levy imposed by the Telecommunications (Universal Service Levy) Act 1997 .

national universal service provider has the meaning given by section 20.

net cost area has the meaning given by section 50 or 52.

participating carrier has the meaning given by section 16.

regional universal service provider has the meaning given by section 20.

special digital data service area has the meaning given by section 19C.

special digital data service obligation has the meaning given by section 19A.

special digital data service provider has the meaning given by section 26A.

standard telephone service has the meaning given by section 6.

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman means the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman appointed under the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman scheme.

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman scheme means the scheme referred to in section 128.

this Act includes the regulations.

universal service obligation has the meaning given by section 19.

universal service provider means:

                     (a)  the national universal service provider; or

                     (b)  a regional universal service provider.

6   Standard telephone service

             (1)  A reference in a particular provision of this Act to a standard telephone service is a reference to a carriage service for each of the following purposes:

                     (a)  the purpose of voice telephony;

                     (b)  if:

                              (i)  voice telephony is not practical for a particular end-user with a disability (for example, because the user has a hearing impairment); and

                             (ii)  another form of communication that is equivalent to voice telephony (for example, communication by means of a teletypewriter) would be required to be supplied to the end-user in order to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 ;

                            the purpose of that form of communication;

                     (c)  a purpose declared by the regulations to be a designated purpose for the purposes of that provision;

where:

                     (d)  the service passes the connectivity test set out in subsection (2); and

                     (e)  to the extent that the service is for the purpose referred to in paragraph (a)—the service has the characteristics (if any) declared by the regulations to be the designated characteristics in relation to that service for the purposes of that provision; and

                      (f)  to the extent that the service is for the purpose referred to in paragraph (b)—the service has the characteristics (if any) declared by the regulations to be the designated characteristics in relation to that service for the purposes of that provision; and

                     (g)  to the extent that the service is for a particular purpose referred to in paragraph (c)—the service has the characteristics (if any) declared by the regulations to be the designated characteristics in relation to that service for the purposes of that provision.

             (2)  A service passes the connectivity test if an end-user supplied with the service for a purpose mentioned in paragraph (1)(a), (b) or (c) is ordinarily able to communicate, by means of the service, with each other end-user who is supplied with the same service for the same purpose, whether or not the end-users are connected to the same telecommunications network.

             (3)  The following are examples of purposes that could be declared by regulations made for the purposes of paragraph (1)(c):

                     (a)  the purpose of the carriage of data;

                     (b)  the purpose of tone signalling.

             (4)  In making a recommendation to the Governor-General at a particular time about the making of regulations for the purposes of paragraph (1)(c), the Minister must have regard to the following matters:

                     (a)  whether a carriage service for the purpose proposed to be declared by the regulations can be supplied using the same infrastructure as is, at that time, being used by universal service providers to supply a standard telephone service for the purpose referred to in paragraph (1)(a);

                     (b)  such other matters (if any) as the Minister considers relevant.

             (5)  This section does not prevent a characteristic declared by regulations made for the purposes of paragraph (1)(e), (f) or (g) from being a performance characteristic.

             (6)  In this section:

this Act includes the Telecommunications Act 1997 .

7   Application of this Act

                   The following provisions of the Telecommunications Act 1997 apply to this Act in a corresponding way to the way in which they apply to that Act:

                     (a)  section 8 (Crown to be bound);

                     (b)  section 9 (extra-territorial application);

                     (c)  section 10 (extension to external Territories);

                     (d)  section 11 (extension to adjacent areas);

                     (e)  section 12 (Act subject to Radiocommunications Act);

                      (f)  section 13 (continuity of partnerships).