ABC VIC STATEWIDE DRIVE
THURSDAY, 04 MAY 2017
SUBJECTS: ACCC, NBN and retail service providers transparency about network limitations
PRESENTER: Well it is a common complaint across regional Victoria, stories of NBN Co and phone retailers signing up customers with promises of super internet speeds only to find out they cant get anywhere near the speeds that were advertised thats if the service works at all. Now the ACCC, the consumer watch dog, that it is going to act, to protect customers from paying for services that they do not get. The Shadow Minister for Regional Communications, is Stephen Jones. Stephen Jones good afternoon.
STEPHEN JONES: Good to be with you Nicole.
PRESENTER: What is your reaction to this announcement by the ACCC?
STEPHEN JONES: I put the matter to the ACCC months ago during of the NBN oversight committee. Like you, I was just sick of hearing stories of people who had paid for an internet service, a broadband package, that they simply arent getting. Theyve paid for a 25 meg service, and theyre getting 10. Or theyve paid for a 50 meg service and theyre getting less than 20. If this was any other sector, any other industry, wed call it for what it was, and thats false advertising. Its selling a product that cant be delivered, and I want the ACCC to crack down on it. I put it to them two months ago, and Im very pleased to say they have written back to me recently and said they are keen on the idea.
PRESENTER: How are they going to protect customers?
STEPHEN JONES: What I am asking them to do is have the NBN tell retail service providers - thats the internet service providers, the people we buy our package off if they know of any problems in their network, which will impair their ability to sell a standard service, then they must tell the retailers. The retailers must tell the customers. We know for example that under the FTTN, the copper to the household parts of the network, once you get about 500 metres from the node, the signal starts to degrade, and they just simply cannot deliver some of those services. So were saying if you know you cant deliver it, youve got to be upfront. Youve got to be upfront with the retailers, and youve got to be upfront with the customers as well.
PRESENTER: Why is this such a problem in regional Australia in particular?
STEPHEN JONES: In regional areas where youve got FTTN and copper to the household youre more likely than not to have those long fibre loops because of the distances between properties. In those areas, they are more likely to have service drop out tenuation is the technical term that is the further you are from the node, the less likely you are to get a full bottle service.
PRESENTER: Stephen Jones, the providers dont care. NBN doesnt care. There is a system where you can ring up and sit on the phone for half an hour, and try and stop yourself from falling into unconsciousness. You can spend days and days trying to chase somebody who will actually have the power to do something, and then never hear from them again. I mean the reality is, these providers have the market sewn up.
STEPHEN JONES: Well its a bloody disgrace if thats happening, and I know it areas, it has been happening. Frankly they should care, because its unethical business. But more importantly, its damaging their brand. If customers dont feel like they can rely on the honesty and the integrity of the product, and the company thats selling to them, everybody suffers in the end. Thats why I say its in the interests of the industry overall, but particularly both the NBN and the retailers theyve got to be upfront, and theres got to be more transparency about what can and cant delivered. Id like to make lots of political points about the fact we wouldnt be in this mess if the Government had changed the roll out and the technology mess, but were in this situation, and consumers have a right to know what the network can and cant deliver.
PRESENTER: Now youre the Shadow Minister for Regional Communications, you would have been watching with interest the Fairfax journalists going on strike for seven days after management announced it would axe 120 jobs. Whats your reaction Stephen Jones?
STEPHEN JONES: Look, I think this is devastating news for the journalists. Ive been watching Fairfaxs numbers drop off over the last two years. Weve getting very close to having newspapers with no journalists. And frankly, who wants to buy a paper without decent news stories? People dont go out there and buy advertising catalogues, they go out there and buy newspapers, with great yarns in them, with stories about whats going on in their own region.
PRESENTER: Nick Xenophon says that its time to tax Google and Facebook which are vacuuming up all the advertising revenue and not employing one journalist, and actually using the copy from organisations such as Fairfax to post on their pages, and providing no payment for that. Is it time to look at a Google/Facebook tax and is it time to start demanding that those online monoliths start paying for the content that they nick from other organisations like Fairfax, thereby sending them to the wall?
STEPHEN JONES: Look its not just Fairfax, its all the news outlets, some of the most popular sites and view items on Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms is the stuff thats originated from professional journalists and their networks. So yes, it is time that we start looking at ways to ensure that the originators of that content capture from of the value when that goes up online or on Facebook, and that they can sell ads alongside it.
PRESENTER: Will Labor support that legislation?
STEPHEN JONES: Ive been discussing this with some of the news outlets in recent times. We want to have a robust model, which enables us to ensure we can do this right.
PRESENTER: Thank you so much for your time.
STEPHEN JONES: Thanks great to be with you.