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Australian Regulator's Fee Changes to Benefit Small ISPs

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has announced changes to its fee structure to take into account the needs of small business ISPs.

The changes include dropping fines against ISPs for the first four minor complaints each quarter, as well as foregoing charges to members for information requests, which do not lead to a complaint. This will include callers querying whether their ISP is a member of the TIO Scheme or requests for members' contact details.

The TIO is an industry body funded on a 'pay per complaint' basis and members of the TIO Scheme are charged a set fee depending on the nature and complexity of the complaint.

"The TIO board and council have approved the new fee structure in response to the changing membership of the TIO scheme," said Ombudsman John Pinnock.

Pinnock said that in the last quarter, four fifths of TIO's ISP members did not receive complaints. ISPs which attract four or fewer complaints per quarter are most likely to benefit from the arrangement.

Kevin Dinn, deputy chairman of the Internet Industry Association and former member of the TIO board, said this concession is just the start of a number of issues smaller ISPs want the TIO to address.

He said in particular smaller ISPs, who make up the majority of TIO's members, want to have the ability to go to the TIO if they have an issue with a carrier that needs resolving. In addition, they also want charges dropped if it is proven that an ISP was not at fault in the event of a complaint brought against a member.

"The concession means less ISPs will receive a bill at all and is a reflection that the TIO is trying to appease the concerns of the smaller ISPs," Dinn concluded.