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ACMA: 41 telcos failed NBN complaints process audit

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(Image: ACMA)

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has revealed that 41 telcos were not providing consumers with the minimum complaints-handling information required under a new National Broadband Network (NBN) standard.

Between July and September, the ACMA said it increased its audit and compliance activities, launching 59 new investigations, 41 of which were related to the new standard that came into effect in July.

Of these 41 telcos, two had no written complaints-handing processes on their websites; seven had “substantial deficiencies in their written processes” numbering 15 or more; and multiple did not classify their complaints or have processes for classification set out.

“Telco consumers need easy access to information about how to make a complaint and how their telco will handle that complaint. They also need to be confident that their problems will be dealt with promptly and effectively,” said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

“While many providers moved swiftly to rectify the shortcomings identified by the ACMA’s audit, it is clear that not all customers are receiving the service required by the standard.

“We will now consider formal action against the telcos that continue to fail to comply.”

The report also detailed how three telcos — Digital Technologies and Telecommunications, Vocal Channels, and Southern Phone — were directed to comply with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code; three telcos — MyRepublic, Peak Connect, and Red Telecom — were formally warned to comply with the TCP Code; Telstra was given remedial direction over its priority assistance obligations and failed to put through 1,400 Triple Zero calls; and Lycamobile was fined AU$12,600 after failing to comply with the TCP Code.

In August, the ACMA announced being able to directly enforce its new NBN migration rules, with the federal government agency’s powers backed up by the ability to commence court proceedings to seek injunctions and civil penalties of up to AU$10 million.

Publishing its compliance and enforcement statement of approach that month, the ACMA said the new regulations will ensure consumers have better access to information on NBN services, are given backup options if services are not working, and have complaints addressed faster and more effectively.

“The ACMA is putting telcos on notice that they need to fully understand the new rules and take immediate steps to embed them in their business practices,” O’Loughlin said.

“The ACMA has already commenced a targeted program of monitoring, audits, and investigations to ensure that industry is complying with the new rules.”

The ACMA had been ordered by the federal government to research NBN migration issues in August last year; in December, it then published the new consumer protections to be implemented during the migration to NBN services, after finding that connection issues may not be resolved for over 100 days on some technologies.

As a result of its investigation, the federal government agency in July introduced its final rules for the transition of consumers onto the NBN, including the requirements for line tests and copper speed tests.

Retailers are now also required to provide interim services if a customer has no access to an NBN service within three days.

O’Loughlin added that the ACMA will report regularly on industry compliance, customer experience, and enforcement activities, which could include civil penalties of up to AU$10 million on top of injunctions.

The ACMA in June unveiled its Consumer Information Standard and Service Continuity Standard, which both commenced on September 21. The former requires retail service providers (RSPs) to provide a key facts sheet to all NBN customers, while the latter ensures consumers have access to a broadband service at all times.

“Together, these rules will require telcos to specify the minimum information that telcos must provide to consumers; ‘line test’ new services to ensure that lines are working and that faults are identified early; reconnect consumers to legacy network services where readily feasible if a consumer is unable to get a working service over the NBN network; comply with minimum standards for handling of consumer complaints; and report data about the complaints they receive to the ACMA so these can be monitored,” O’Loughlin said back in April.

Last month, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) reported that while complaints were up marginally for the year, they began dropping in the final quarter including across the NBN.

Complaints increased by 6.2 percent year on year, but dropped by 17.8 percent quarter on quarter in Q4.

TPG last week took out the third NBN speed-monitoring report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), delivering 88.7 percent of its maximum plan speeds overall and 88.4 percent during busy hours for downloads.

TPG likewise scored highest on average upload speeds, providing 89.2 percent of its maximum plan speeds overall and 89.1 percent during busy hours.

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2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C8 Convertible Review – Heritage only goes so far

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Heritage can be a lodestar or it can be a crippling anchor holding you back, and few cars illustrate that quite so well as the Corvette. America’s homegrown sports car star has the history, sure, but it’s fair to say that in its last few generations it’s felt more “quarterback gone to seed” than all-out contender. The 2020 Corvette Stingray changes that.

Chevrolet didn’t set itself a small challenge there, either. Mid-engined for the first time, more capable of directly competing with the Porsche 911 that Corvette fans always used to say their car rivaled, and to which the rest of us politely nodded and smiled and hoped they’d change the subject. It couldn’t just be a big engine and a comparatively small price any more.

The result is a performance car that feels shaped by both demands for speed and practicality; built to a price and with hints of racing game and “show it off in the parking lot” whiz-bang gimmickry. Cold, hard pragmatism butting up against that omnipresent recognition that a Corvette has to feel like a Corvette else, really, what’s the point?

That’s a lot of directions to be pulled in, and it could’ve left the Corvette C8 a deep disappointment. The fact that it isn’t, well, that’s something of a surprise.

Style-wise, it’s one of those cars which is far more successful in person than on the screen. Sure, it feels like Chevrolet’s designers have spread their inspiration net wide, and there are some angles where the C8 is a little ungainly. The rear decklid is particularly exaggerated – though in this convertible form it hides a trick folding metal roof as well as a fairly sizable trunk – while the vents just aft of the doors look more ungainly the longer you look at them and the rear is somewhat busy. I wouldn’t have chosen “Accelerate Yellow” paint, either; the Corvette doesn’t need to do quite so much work to stand out.

Pricing kicks off at $66,400 (plus $1,095 destination) for the drop-top, though it’s hard to imagine most C8 buyers stopping there. The standard car isn’t poorly equipped, but the $11,450 3LT package upgrades the infotainment, adds a Bose audio system, a head-up display, GT2 bucket seats with heating, ventilation, and power bolsters, the Performance Data Recorder that now captures both 1080p footage from the track and everyday video of your trip to Costco. It also throws in a front curb-view camera – its view summoned with a mercifully easy to locate button – and must-haves like blind spot warnings and rear cross traffic alerts.

I say “must haves” because rear visibility is fairly dire, and side visibility isn’t all that grand either. The rear spoiler that comes as part of the $5,000 Z51 Performance Package doesn’t help with sight-lines but it sure looks good. The rest of the package is more focused on speed, with special suspension, brakes, an electronic limited slip differential, high-performance tires, a special exhaust and rear axle ratio, and a heavy-duty cooling system.

$1,895 adds Magnetic Ride Control, and it’s an option every Corvette buyer should check off. Chevrolet’s trick dampers can adjust the viscosity of the fluid inside, crisping things up for coccyx-punishing firmness or mellowing out for long-distance cruising. It’s suspension witchcraft and more than worth the money, as is the $1,495 front lift system which can either be triggered manually or programmed to automatically raise the nose for the same tricky incline every time.

What every Corvette Stingray has at the moment is the same LT2 6.2-liter V8 engine, good for 490 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. The Z51 package nudges those up to 495 hp and 470 lb-ft, and trims the 0-60 mph time to 2.9 seconds. There’s no manual option – that’s part of Chevy’s aforementioned pragmatism, blaming traditionally low sales of stick shifts even if purists say they’re non-negotiable – only an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters.

The engine’s in the middle, and it’s the rear wheels that are driven. There’s been plenty of chatter about AWD and hybrid options, but for the moment the C8 is keeping things simple. Simple and effective, mind.

It goes fast, of course. In a straight line, the Stingray leaps ahead like a beast scalded, monstrously quick and with a soundtrack to match. I’m not typically a convertible fan, but the drop-top C8 allows you to lower the rear glass window independently, letting in more of the V8 howl.

Six drive modes span inclement weather through to full-on track use, and there are all manner of traction settings to tinker with if you dig through the menus. The sluggish drive mode dial isn’t really set up for fast spinning through to take advantage of an unexpectedly rewarding road, mind; better to stab the “Z” button on the wheel, which you can preconfigure with your pick of the settings.

Speaking of the wheel, Chevrolet’s decision to fit a weirdly rectangular one with droopy-jowl spokes feels like another of those misguided gaming-inspired decisions. It’s thick-rimmed and – in 3LT form – heated, while $595 gives it a sueded microfiber wrap that’s going to one day be a time capsule of every greasy palm that gripped it. Does the shape help? Probably not.

The Corvette C8 does, at least, respond well to it. Indeed cornering is one of the Chevy’s key charms, even with some sensible understeer dialed in from the factory. There’s a predictable linearity to it, combined with a sharpness of turn-in that leaves things feeling just plain playful. Factor in ridiculous levels of grip and little in the way of body roll, and it becomes abundantly clear that this thing was tuned for fun.

The same can be said for the gearbox. Sure, it’s a little lacking in slush at low speeds, but I’ll stomach the jerkiness there in return for the snappy response to the paddles (or, if you’re feeling lazy, eager willingness to downshift when you push on in auto mode). Switch to Tour, meanwhile, and the engine/transmission/dampers combo is unexpectedly refined. This needn’t be just your weekend plaything.

There’s room for two inside, though things feel snug. Part of that is pure dimensions, and part of that is Chevrolet’s packaging. The high center console – particularly the long ski-slope of HVAC buttons cascading confusingly down between driver and passenger – could easily leave larger occupants feeling claustrophobic.

All C8’s get an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen within easy reach, and a 12-inch driver display with different gauge displays depending on which mode you’re in. It feels, frankly, light years ahead of the old Corvette, though you’ll need the 2021 model year car to get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rather than their wired counterparts.

What stands out, though, is just how much the C8 feels focused on the pleasure of actually driving. For all the new platform, and the fancier tech, and the slick hard-top convertible roof, that 6.2-liter V8 is the star here. When you’re cruising, it’s burbling happily; push harder, and it serenades you like only an eight-cylinder can, while still delivering the urgency that rivals have turned to smaller, turbocharged engines to deliver.

It’s fun that’s contagious, too. Few cars I’ve been in recently have turned so many heads, and prompted so many questions, as the Corvette C8. People love this car, and it feels like everyone has a ‘Vette story of their own to share in turn.

Factor in time for those conversations, then, and for being more watchful than you might expect in a modern vehicle. Chevy doesn’t offer adaptive cruise control, nor lane-keeping assistance, and there’s no automatic emergency braking. Rear cross-traffic alerts were added for the MY21 C8.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Verdict

Not having grown up in the US, sometimes the charms of Americana are lost on me. The old Corvette was a good example of that: I knew people loved it, I just could never quite figure out why. The good news is the Corvette C8 isn’t just playing to the home crowd.

Maybe it’s the personality it brings to the table, or the usability. Some sports cars leave you wary of their power or temperament, but like anything with a Chevrolet badge on the hood, the Corvette doesn’t demand blood sacrifice in order to get the job done.

Value is subjective, of course. No, this particular $93,660 Corvette isn’t cheap but, given the sort of cars it competes so strongly with, it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t punch above its weight. I’d keep the Z51 package and the MagneRide, and maybe compromise on the 2LT trim to keep the overall sticker down, but even if you maxed it out and made the dealer’s day you’re still well under the 911 and even McLaren Sport Series I think the ‘Vette can spar with.

History, and heritage, can be great. At their best they set expectations, just as long as you avoid falling into the same old ruts as before. While what’s new about the Corvette C8 is special, then, it’s how Chevrolet maintains its old values like attainability and everyday usability that really makes this car shine.

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Volvo created the “ultimate driving simulator” using the latest gaming tech

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Engineers at Volvo have created what they call the ultimate driving simulator. The driving simulator wasn’t created for fun. Rather it was created to help them improve vehicle safety and autonomous driving technology. Volvo has a very long history of vehicle safety innovations.

The new ultimate driving simulator provides Volvo with groundbreaking mixed-reality simulation. The set up has a moving driving seat, steering wheel with haptic feedback, and a virtual reality headset. Volvo engineers say the driving simulator makes it hard to tell reality from simulation, which was precisely the point of building it.

The technology behind the driving simulator uses the real-time 3D development platform Unity and tech from a virtual and mixed reality company called Varjo. The simulator involves driving a real car on real roads combining life-like high definition 3D graphics with an augmented reality headset and a full-body Teslasuit providing feedback from a virtual world and monitoring bodily reactions.

The software and hardware allow Volvo engineers to simulate fewer traffic scenarios on a real test track while using a real car in complete safety. The system allows the engineers to gain important insights on the interaction between drivers and the vehicle to develop new safety, driver assistance, and autonomous driving features.

Test drivers can be exposed to imagined active safety and driver assistance features, upcoming autonomous drive user interfaces, future car models, and many other scenarios. The system can be used on a real test track road or in the test lab with fully customizable scenarios of endless variety. Volvo recently demonstrated its ultimate driving simulator, and the video can be seen above. Engineers note that when developing safety systems for vehicles, testing is critical, but testing the systems in the real world can be dangerous, time-consuming, and expensive. Moving the testing to the virtual world saves significant time and money.

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2022 Genesis GV70 will debut with innovative biometrics and rear-seat detection technology

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It seems the 2022 Genesis GV70 will offer more than just unprecedented luxury and good looks. According to the Korean Car Blog, the newest GV70 will feature an in-vehicle fingerprint-activated biometrics system and a new rear-seat detection radar sensor.

The Santa Fe SUV was among the first Hyundai vehicles to get in-vehicle fingerprint scanners, but the new system in the Genesis GV70 can do more than open the door or start the engine. The fingerprint sensor is located under the Start/Stop button and allows you to pay for fuel and parking via Genesis CarPay, and you can do it all without repeatedly entering confusing passwords.

It also functions in Valet Mode by hiding your phonebook and home address from the infotainment display. And since your biometric data is linked to the vehicle’s settings, you can open the door using the Genesis Connected App and start the engine using fingerprint recognition, all without using a smart key.

Also, touching the fingerprint sensor restores all customer information for the driver’s seat position, steering wheel orientation, latest navigation data, and the infotainment volume – all of which are stored with your fingerprint data.

The newest Genesis GV70 will also come with a sophisticated rear-seat detection system. This technology is nothing new. But again, Genesis is taking it further by utilizing a ceiling-mounted, ultra-sensitive radar sensor in place of a conventional ultrasonic sensor.

According to Genesis, the new radar sensor is more sensitive and more accurate in detecting subtle movements. It’s so keen, in fact, that Genesis claims it can detect the beating heart of a sleeping infant in the back seat.

The powerful sensor can read through non-metallic materials like blankets, clothes, seats, and even dog crates to detect your pets. The newest GV70 luxury crossover will be the first to get this innovative rear-seat reminder technology, while other Hyundai vehicles are expected to soon inherit this new tech.

The 2022 GV70 is the second SUV from Genesis after launching the GV80 this year. Based on the G70 sport-luxury sedan, the GV70 is the purest interpretation of the brand’s ‘Athletic Elegance’ design idiom.

The powertrain specifics are still forthcoming, but we’re expecting the new GV70 to have standard FWD and optional AWD with either a 2.5-liter turbo-four or a twin-turbo V6 motor. It will first go on sale in South Korea by this December, while the first U.S. deliveries arrive by mid-2021.

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