The summary below outlines ACCAN's activities from 1 December 2016 to 28 February 2017.
The ACCAN policy team has continued to have a heavy workload over the last three months, with nine submissions to government and industry inquiries during the period, as there continues to be an intense focus on telecommunications issues. Some of these were major pieces of work, such as the Productivity Commission USO Inquiry, which involved intense consultation with consumers and independent experts. The ACCAN CEO and policy team members also appeared before the Commissioner in a public hearing.
Our advocacy has continued to advance our policy priorities, by focusing on the areas of rural and regional communications, affordable communications, improved consumer decision making, and improved accessibility, as well as improved consumer safeguards, privacy and security.
All Grants Scheme projects are tracking well against the set milestones with some minor adjustments to scope in the ANU project due to the complexity of data under examination. Launch events for the final report from ‘Finding Peace of Mind’ (University of Sydney) and ‘Rank the Telco’ (FCRC) are being planned for 9 May and 27 April 2017, respectively. Another event for the UNSW smarthome security project is being planned for 20 April as a workshop to discuss regulatory and consumer protection mechanisms.
An update for the ADSL Availability Map is planned for April. The mystery shopping (disability consumers) project has delivered its results in raw form and a full report is expected in March. A new research project is being commissioned to evaluate the extent of problems being encountered by third party billing and mobile premium services in the lead up to the review of the Mobile Premium Services Code.
During the quarter ACCAN published nine news stories covering a range of issues including picking a good NBN plan, global roaming, excess mobile data charges, and the Customer Service Guarantee. In late February, ACCAN published an article urging consumers who are still using the Interim Satellite Service to switch to Sky Muster services before the switch off date (28 February). This article was heavily promoted on social media to get the message out to these consumers. ACCAN’s appearance at the Productivity Commission Inquiry and position on the USO was also promoted via social media.
ACCAN participated in regular meetings with key stakeholders in the December – February quarter including the Managing Director of Southern Phone. A range of meetings reflecting the rural and regional focus took place this quarter. ACCAN staff again participated in Yabun, the biggest festival celebrating Indigenous culture held each year on 26 January with an information stall.
ACCAN generated 267 media mentions across national print, online, TV and radio in the reporting period. This is an average of 48 items per month. The majority of ACCAN’s coverage (72 per cent) was in online coverage. Print articles made up 23 per cent of the coverage, while radio accounted for four per cent and TV for one per cent. Issues of interest ranged from the launch of the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition, the Universal Service Obligation, affordability issues related to the USO, the switch off of the Interim Satellite Service (ISS) and switching to the NBN.
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