Optus Accepts SMS Barring

• Optus to make Premium SMS barring available by October • Customers can pre register for SMS barring • If Optus breach’s undertakings, ACMA will apply for compensation for customers

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has accepted Optus’ excuse that technical issue were the reason for its non-compliance with rules relating to customer barring of premium SMS and MMS.

The ACMA’s Barring Determination, which came into effect on 1 July 2010, requires carriers to provide customers with the option to bar premium SMS and MMS. Optus did not meet this deadline due to technical issues around the development of its custom barring solution.

‘The Barring Determination was introduced by the ACMA to address consumer concerns about the unexpected high costs of some premium SMS and MMS services. The ACMA regards compliance with the Barring Determination as a very serious matter,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

Optus will make barring available by 11 October 2010. Optus customers can pre-register for premium SMS barring now and barring will be automatically activated for those customers when the service is activated. Optus must provide its customers with information about other options for controlling access to premium SMS and MMS, including how to avoid receiving, and how to unsubscribe from, those services.

Under the undertaking, Optus has also agreed to establish a dedicated team of staff with authority to deal with and resolve complaints about premium SMS and MMS, as well as deliver on extensive customer information and reporting obligations. Should there be a breach of an enforceable undertaking, the ACMA may apply to the Federal Court for orders, including an order to compensate persons who have suffered loss or damage as a result of the breach. Such orders may also include directing Optus to pay to the Commonwealth an amount up to the amount of financial benefit obtained that is reasonably attributable to the breach.