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Infrastructure connecting a property to a telecommunications network

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Complaints we commonly receive about infrastructure used to connect a property to a telecommunications network include claims that:

  • the consumer was not informed about their responsibilities to prepare a property for a service connection
  • a carrier or provider has installed infrastructure in a potentially hazardous or inconvenient way
  • the consumer and carrier or provider do not agree about who is responsible for maintaining or fixing cabling or equipment on a property.

In this position statement, infrastructure refers to the cables and equipment required for telecommunications services to connect and transmit to other services. A carrier is a telecommunications provider that holds a carrier licence. The licence gives the carrier certain powers under the Telecommunications Act.

For complaints about connection delays and disconnection of services see our position statement Connection and disconnection of services.

For complaints about faults on infrastructure or equipment see our position statement Faulty services or equipment.

For complaints about damage to infrastructure or property see our position statement Damage to infrastructure or property.

For information about a carrier exercising its statutory powers in relation to land see our guidelines on the installation and maintenance of low-impact facilities.

Laws and codes of practice

The following laws and codes of practice are relevant to complaints about infrastructure used to connect a property to a telecommunications network.

Our approach

When we deal with complaints about infrastructure used to connect a property to a telecommunications network we consider the law, good industry practice, and fairness in all the circumstances.

Preparing a property for installation of infrastructure

Good industry practice

A carrier or provider can connect the telecommunications network to a property using a variety or combination of technologies and methods, including:

  • fixed line technology, for example copper, fibre optic, and hybrid fibre coaxial cabling
  • fixed wireless technology
  • satellite technology.

Different technologies have different pre-installation requirements. Depending on the technology, and individual business practice, a carrier or provider may take full responsibility for these requirements, or share responsibility with the consumer.

TIO view

Location of infrastructure

In some circumstances a consumer may have a say in where infrastructure will be located on a property or premises. The choice of location will be influenced by technological and commercial requirements, including location of existing infrastructure.

If the consumer has a say in where infrastructure will be located we expect the provider to tell the consumer:

  • if they are not the land owner, they need the consent of the land owner for the installation the extent to which the consumer has a say in where the infrastructure will be located
  • the options the consumer has in respect of the location
  • that in circumstances when the technician installing the infrastructure works for a carrier that is not the provider, the final location will be agreed with the technician when they attend the property for the installation.

Responsibilities for preparing a property for installation

A consumer may be responsible for preparing a property for installation of infrastructure. For example, a consumer may need to:

  • dig a trench to prepare for a lead-in cable (a lead-in cable is either buried in a shallow trench or hung aerially from poles)
  • cut back tree branches to complete the installation, or
  • clear an area for technicians to work safely.

Sometimes this may be undertaken by a developer or builder for new developments.

A carrier or provider is responsible for informing the consumer about matters such as:

  • what work the consumer is required to do
  • if a trench is required, where it should be dug
  • if the consumer can perform the work themselves, or if it must be done by a contractor of their choice
  • if the carrier or provider recommends a contractor (for work to be done by the consumer), the contractor will be working for the consumer, not the carrier or provider
  • if the consumer needs to tell the carrier or provider once the work is complete
  • if the consumer will be responsible for any costs.

Once a provider is aware the property has been prepared for installation, it is responsible for arranging the installation of the infrastructure and connecting the service in the timeframes set out in the Customer Service Guarantee Standard, if it applies. If the Standard does not apply, the service should be connected within the timeframe the consumer and provider agree on, or (if no timeframe is agreed) within a time that meets the guarantee as to reasonable time for supply under the Australian Consumer Law. See our position statement on Connection and disconnection of services for more information on connection timeframes.

Before starting any excavation activity, we recommend the consumer contact Dial Before You Dig for cable and pipe location plans for the property, and refer to the plans. See our position statement Damage to infrastructure or property for more information.

Hazardous, inconvenient, or temporary infrastructure

The law

The Telecommunications Act requires a carrier or provider to take all reasonable steps to:

  • do as little damage as practicable
  • act in accordance with good engineering practice
  • protect the safety of persons or property, and
  • comply with recognised industry standards

when exercising its carrier powers under Schedule 3 of the Act.

Good industry practice

Carrier commitments to safety

NBN Co’s Working Safely guideline states that NBN Co is dedicated to building a culture of excellence in safety and continually improving safety practices to meet the best standards in the industry.

The Telstra Supplier Code of Conduct states that all suppliers providing items, material or services to Telstra must:

  • identify, eliminate and where not possible to eliminate, manage health and safety risks which may be present as a result of their activities. In doing so, the supplier must consider their workers, Telstra workers, customers and members of the community that have the potential to be impacted by the identified risks
  • identify and comply with all relevant workplace and product health and safety laws, and ensure that workers are informed of any specific legal obligations that apply to them in carrying out their work.

Installation of lead-in cabling or other types of infrastructure

If a lead-in cable needs to be installed across the consumer’s property it must be installed according to the External Telecommunication Cable Networks Code and other applicable industry rules.

Other types of infrastructure are required to be installed in accordance with applicable industry standards and rules.

TIO view

The provider is responsible for making sure temporary infrastructure is not:

  • a tripping, fire, or other safety hazard
  • in a position where it can damage a consumer’s property
  • in a position where it could be damaged by normal activity, vehicles, animals, or weather.

The provider is also responsible for making sure a consumer is able to use and move around their property without being restricted by temporary infrastructure. For example, the consumer should not have to lift or move temporary infrastructure out of the way in order to conduct normal activity.

In addition, a provider is responsible for replacing temporary infrastructure (whether or not it is hazardous or inconvenient) with the correct permanent infrastructure within a reasonable time.

Customer cabling

The law

The Telecommunications Act defines customer cabling as a line that is used, installed ready for use or intended for use on the customer side of the boundary of a telecommunications network.

The Act sets out how to locate the customer side of the boundary. The Wiring Rules give a detailed interpretation of the Act rules.

In summary, and in order of precedence, the customer side of the boundary is:

  • the point agreed on by the provider and consumer before connecting the service
  • the consumer’s side of a main distribution frame, if there is one
  • the consumer’s side of a network termination device, if there is one
  • the consumer’s side of the first socket after the cabling enters the building
  • for a satellite service, the outside surface of the receiver in the satellite equipment.

TIO view

Generally, unless agreed to by the consumer and provider, the consumer is responsible for installing customer cabling not supplied by the provider as part of the service. We recommend that the consumer use a registered cabler to install customer cabling.

The consumer is responsible for fixing faults on the customer side of the boundary unless otherwise agreed with the provider. The provider is responsible for maintaining and fixing infrastructure up to the customer side of the boundary. For disputes about assessing where a fault is located see our position statement Faulty services or equipment.

Dealing with a dispute

To assess a complaint about infrastructure used to connect a property to a telecommunications network we may ask for information from the consumer and carrier or provider.

Preparing a property

We may ask:

  • Was the consumer responsible for some of the work required to prepare a property for the installation of infrastructure?
  • What did the carrier or provider tell the consumer about preparing the property?
  • What action has the consumer taken to complete the preparation?
  • When did the carrier or provider install the infrastructure?
  • Could the consumer choose the location of particular infrastructure, and if so, was the infrastructure installed in the requested location? If not, did the carrier’s technician give any information about why the infrastructure was not installed in the requested location?

Hazardous, inconvenient, or temporary infrastructure

We may ask:

  • Did the provider install infrastructure in a way that does not meet good engineering practice?
  • What hazard or inconvenience does the infrastructure cause?
  • How long has any temporary infrastructure been in place?
  • What is necessary to bring the infrastructure into line with good engineering practice?

Customer cabling

We may ask:

  • Where is the customer side of the telecommunications network boundary?
  • Did the provider agree to take responsibility for any infrastructure on the customer side of the boundary?

Outcomes

When, in our view, a carrier or provider has contributed to a delay in completing the work required to prepare a property for infrastructure, we expect the carrier or provider to address the impact of the delay on the consumer. This may involve:

  • completing the work
  • offering an interim service
  • waiving service charges
  • paying compensation.

Remedies under the Australian Consumer Law may also apply for any failure to meet a consumer guarantee.

If the carrier or provider did not meet an applicable performance standard under the Customer Service Guarantee Standard, compensation may be payable to the consumer.

When a consumer has had a say in the location of the infrastructure and the infrastructure is installed in accordance with the consumer’s request, any further request that the infrastructure be moved will generally be at the cost of the consumer.

When:

  • a consumer has had a say in the location of infrastructure, and
  • the consumer has chosen and communicated a reasonable location

but the carrier or provider has not installed the infrastructure in that location, the carrier or provider will be required to reinstall the infrastructure in the consumer’s chosen location. When we assess if a location is reasonable we will consider any information given to the consumer by the carrier’s technician.

The carrier or provider will also need to repair any incidental damage in line with our position statement Damage to infrastructure or property.

When, in our view, infrastructure has been installed in a way that does not demonstrate good engineering practice the carrier or provider will be asked to reinstall the infrastructure to meet the required standard. Any hazard will need to be immediately removed. If the infrastructure is temporary we expect the carrier or provider to keep the consumer informed about when it will be replaced permanently.

Effective date: 11 March 2016

This position statement provides broad guidance on the law, good industry practice, and what the TIO may consider to be fair and reasonable in general circumstances. It is not a full statement of the law or good industry practice. The TIO considers each matter brought to it on its own particular merits.

Customer service

Case Study - Customer Service

A man contacted us because he had made a payment twice by mistake. Each time he called the service provider he had to explain his situation again as if it was the first time.

Next step?              

  • make an online complaint
  • 1800 062 058                
  • Write PO Box 276
    Collins Street West Vic 8007                            
  • National Relay Service Call on 1800 555 677 then ask for 1800 062 058            
  • Fax our consumer complaint form to 1800 630 614