Australia’s largest holder of telecommunications market share Telstra Corporation (ASX:TLS)
has been served a $1.5 million penalty for depriving around 42,000 landline customers of the option to change service providers without losing ownership of their current phone number last year.
Communications regulations guarantee the right for customers to port their phone numbers to preferred telcos of choice at anytime, as a crucial consumer protection and competition safeguard measure.
However, Telstra disabled this feature in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has explained that lockdown restrictions hampered its operational capacity to perform porting services for outbound and inbound customers between March and July.
Outbreaks in India and the Philippines have forced their respective governments to shut down call centres nationwide. This has dealt a heavy blow to international telco providers, including Telstra.
The telco giant claimed to have received clearance from the The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to make the function temporarily unavailable.
This was later denied by the telcos watchdog, as the regulator condemned Telstra’s inability to facilitate the function, “It is clear Telstra did not have sufficient plans in place to continue to comply for a length of time”.
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