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The Department of Communications and the Arts has drafted an exemption instrument to the new Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) obligations that started on 1 July 2020. The SIP obligations require NBN and any other carriers providing telecommunications services in existing and new developments to provide high speed internet (broadband) and voice services on request.

ACCAN supports the exemption instrument proposed by the Department for the following reasons:

  • It allows carriers providing voice and mobile services (for example, Telstra fixed voice services; mobile network operators) to continue to do so without being bound by SIP obligations; this ensures that they are not deterred in providing these services.
  • The exemption will support continuity of these important services for consumers and small businesses.
  • ACCAN notes that this does not affect Telstra’s ongoing obligation to provide fixed voice services outside NBN’s fixed line footprint under the Universal Service Obligation, and that NBN will in most cases be obliged by SIP obligations.

 

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ACCAN made a submission to the Mobile Black Spot Program (MBSP) Round 5A Discussion Paper.

Lack of telecommunications connectivity denies regional, rural and remote communities the socio-economic benefits that people in metropolitan areas take for granted. Yet mobile network providers are now at a point where there is minimal return on investment for them in rural, remote and regional locations and there is little incentive for them to build infrastructure in these areas.

ACCAN has made a submission to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications consultation on options to support Australian stories on our screens. Australian content has cultural value for all Australians, including people with disability, and as such everyone should have access to Australian content.

In our submission, ACCAN explained that some accessibility features are readily included on Australian content, whereas others aren’t available (or aren’t consistently available). This is because there are no clear legislative requirements or protections to ensure access to Australian programming across all platforms.

ACCAN has commented on the proposed update to the Federal Government’s telecommunications in new developments policy.

ACCAN agrees with the policy’s objectives to provide people moving into new developments with ready access to modern telecommunications, both voice and broadband, and to create a competitive market for the provision of such infrastructure. However, ACCAN identified the following areas for improvement in the proposed approach:

Towards the end of 2019, ACCAN started thinking about what a fully accessible communications sector would look like. We wanted to develop a roadmap of shared goals to illustrate what is needed to ensure all people with disability in Australia have full and equal access to communications technologies and services.

In developing the roadmap, ACCAN sought feedback from a range of organisations supporting people with disability. We asked three key questions:

  1. What communications issues do people with disability currently experience?
  2. What communications issues might people with disability experience in the future?
  3. What approaches could help address these existing and anticipated communications issues?

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications is developing a trial to assess alternative ways of delivering voice (home phone) services in regional, rural and remote (RRR) areas. ACCAN previously commented on how these trials should be designed, run and evaluated. This round of consultation sought comments on the draft Grant Guidelines, Agreement and Application Form.

ACCAN supports the Alternative Voice Services Trials. Our submission makes a number of recommendations to ensure no consumer is worse off by participating in the trials. We also provided feedback on how to make sure the trials are as useful as possible. ACCAN reiterated the need for trialled services to be assessed not just in terms of value for money, but also in terms of quality.

Some of Telstra’s networks are exempt from Parts 7 and 8 of the Telecommunications Act 1997. You can read more about this here. The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications is seeking comments on Telstra’s request to extend its exemptions for its South Brisbane Velocity and other Velocity phone and internet networks. The current exemptions expire on 30 June 2020, so Telstra has asked the Minister of Communications, Cyber Security and the Arts to extend the exemptions further.

Consumers in the Velocity footprint have a difficult time getting affordable and good quality internet that is suitable to their needs. ACCAN’s submission acknowledged the necessity to grant Telstra’s request this time, otherwise current customers in the Velocity footprints may be left without a service after 30 June 2020. We argued that Telstra’s exemptions should be granted for 2 years at most. We also argued that Telstra should have a plan to sell the networks and should report on this regularly to the ACCC and the Department.

 The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) thanks the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) for investigating systemic issues affecting small businesses’ communications services.

“A reliable phone and internet service is fundamental for most modern small businesses,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin.

“Unfortunately, in the past few years we’ve seen the share of TIO complaints from small businesses continually increase. The TIO’s report helps to identify some of the complex issues that small businesses face when there is a fault with their phone or internet service.”

ACCAN submitted to the ACCC’S draft determination of NBN’s Long-Term Revenue Constraint Methodology (LTRCM) 2018-19. The LTRCM determines NBN’s allowed annual regulated revenue by examining various components such as operating expenditure, depreciation and return on capital.

ACCAN, the Consumers Federation of Australia and the Consumer Action Law Centre jointly submitted to the ACCC’s consultation on authorisation for NBN Co and telecommunications companies who are members of a Special Working Group. The ACCC granted an interim authorisation and is considering issuing a final determination in September.

The authorisation allows members of the group to engage in conduct which would normally be viewed as anticompetitive and illegal. The purpose of the authorisation is so that members of the group can work together to support best performance of the network and hardship measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New complaints data released today suggests that telcos need a customer service shake-up as consumers continue to deal with no or delayed action from telecommunications providers, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

Nearly a third (31 per cent) of complaints escalated to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) by between January and March 2020 related to issues with no or delayed action from telecommunications providers. An additional 11 per cent of complaints had a resolution agreed to by the telco and consumers, but not met.

ACCAN wrote a submission in response to the draft Reducing Scam Calls Industry Code, released for comment by the Communications Alliance. ACCAN welcomed the draft Code as an acknowledgement of the important role the telecommunications industry can play in the control of scam calls which pose a risk to consumers.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has welcomed the passage of the Privacy Amendment (Public Health Contact Information) Bill 2020. This is a key step to ensuring appropriate safeguards are in place to protect the privacy of Australians using the COVIDSafe app.

ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin said that she was pleased that the legislation was amended to address a number of concerns raised by ACCAN and other consumer groups across the fields of health, technology, privacy, human rights, digital inclusion, communications and community interests.

ACCAN's Talking Telco: phone and internet help made easy. The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has today released Talking Telco, a series of guides to help Australians understand how to connect their phone and internet services and how to get help when things go wrong.

Talking Telco has been supported by the Federal Government, with the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP launching ACCAN’s new range of telco consumer advice.

As the current COVID-19 crisis has highlighted, phone and internet services now play an essential role in the everyday lives of Australians.

COVIDSafe app

ACCAN responded to the draft Bill1 regarding the COVIDSafe app in collaboration with 17 organisations flagging concerns of consumer groups across the fields of health, technology, privacy, human rights, digital inclusion, communications and community interests.

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The Telecommunications Reform Package is due in the Senate this week and the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) is calling for all sides of politics support passage of the legislation.

The two Bills that comprise the Telecommunications Reform Package include important provisions that will support guaranteed access to reliable telecommunications for all Australians, with an emphasis on regional, rural and remote areas.

The provisions will result in changes to carrier separation rules, provide new statutory infrastructure provider obligations on NBN Co, and will establish the Regional Broadband Scheme to support the partial cross-subsidisation of NBN satellite and fixed wireless services by other network providers.

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Connecting and Using Your NBN Home Phone Service

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Connecting and Fixing Your NBN Home Internet Service

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Choosing an Internet Plan

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Using Your Mobile Phone

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Choosing a Mobile Plan

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Making a Complaint

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Your small business guides


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Making a Complaint - Small Business

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Choosing a Small Business NBN Internet Plan

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Phone and internet bills can quickly add up. To help you keep costs down, we’ve pulled together our top mobile and broadband money saving tips.

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If you are unhappy with the service you are receiving from your telco, you can make a complaint.

How to make a complaint

Your telco will have information on their website on how to make a complaint. The steps below can help make it easier:

  1. Clearly state at the beginning that you are making a complaint and explain what it’s about.

  2. Save any emails and keep details of phone conversations (date, time and person you spoke with). If you use live chat on your telco’s website, make sure you save a copy of the conversation. You can do this by taking a screenshot on your computer, phone, or tablet. You can also take a photo of the conversation, or print it out.

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If you are unhappy with the service you are receiving from your telco, you can make a complaint.

Telcos have to follow rules about when small businesses can be disconnected, help they must provide if you can’t pay a bill, and more. If your small business spends less than $40,000 per year with one telco for your internet, landline and mobile phone services, you’re protected by these rules.

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The National Broadband Network (NBN) is Australia’s wholesale internet provider. This means that when you sign up for an NBN plan, you must order the service through a telco (e.g. Telstra, Optus, TPG).

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Sometimes people are unable to pay their bills due to illness, unemployment, experiences of domestic or family violence, or other changes in circumstances.

It’s important not to ignore your bill, because there is help available.

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Scammers are constantly changing the ways they work and adapting to new technologies. To keep yourself safe, it’s important to know how scammers can use phones and the internet to try to profit from your personal information.

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Data and internet use

Track your usage

To avoid excess usage charges or running out of data, it’s important to know how much data is included with your phone plan. Once you know your data allowance, you can set a usage limit on your mobile phone. This can be done in your phone’s settings.

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Prepaid or postpaid?

There are a wide range of pre and postpaid plans available on the market. The main benefit of using postpaid is that you can buy a new phone with these plans, while prepaid plans may be better if you want to avoid unexpected extra charges and already have a mobile phone.

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If you live in an urban area, it is likely that your home phone services will no longer be provided on Telstra’s network. Instead they will be provided over the NBN.

This means that even if you only want to keep your home phone service, you still need to connect to the NBN.

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Once you have chosen an NBN home internet plan, your telco will organise to have your home connected to the NBN.

Getting connected may differ depending on your home and the area you live in.

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The National Broadband Network (NBN) is Australia’s wholesale internet provider. This means that when you sign up for an NBN plan, you will need to order the service through a telco (e.g. Telstra, Optus, Vodafone etc.).

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These guides are designed to help you understand how to get your home or small business phone, mobile and internet connected, and how to get help if there are problems with your service.

Talking Telco also includes great tips for saving money on your phone and internet service and how to stay safe online.

Your Internet and Home Phone

Learn how to get connected to an NBN phone or internet plan and how to get help if things go wrong.

Your Mobile

Need help choosing a plan? Want to learn how to solve common problems? Find help here.

Your Telco Rights

Can’t afford your bill? Want to make a complaint? Learn about your rights as a telco consumer.

Your Digital Safety

Tips to help keep yourself safe online and over the phone.

Your Money Saving Guide

Tips to help you cut costs on your phone and internet plans.

Your Small Business Guide

Phone and internet advice tailored for small business businesses.

 

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has welcomed news that NDIS participants will be able to purchase Assistive Technology to help them through the COVID-19 crisis and self-isolation.

“Having access to the right phone or assistive technology is vital for people with disability to be able to access important telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ACCAN Director of Inclusion Wayne Hawkins. “Allowing NDIS participants to use their existing plan funding to purchase Assistive Technology is a very welcomed step by the Government.”

Mr Hawkins explained that it was important for consumers to understand what mainstream and Assistive Technology is available and may best suit their individual needs.

ACCAN Autumn 2020 Mag Cover

Download: pdfACCAN Magazine Issue 35 Autumn 20207.7 MB

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The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has applauded the expansion of Medicare-subsidised telehealth services for all Australians. However, the peak body for communications consumers cautioned that the full benefits of telehealth may not be realised if Australians are not online.

“While it is pleasing that the Government has listened to the medical community and made bulk-billed telehealth services available for all Australians, the underlying issue of connectivity remains,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin.

A coalition of nearly 30 community sector organisations and advocates has urged the Federal Government to address the affordability of communications services and equipment to support Australians in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety Cyber and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, cross-sector community organisations including Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), CHOICE, The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), and The Smith Family outlined several recommendations that would enable communities to keep connected, work remotely, and access essential services such as education, government services, and telehealth.

The Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) has welcomed NBN Co’s new measures to support better bush comms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Communications services are a vital utility. As more people work from home and students are asked to study remotely, households will require more data to keep connected. NBN Co’s offer of an additional 45GB of data for nbn Sky Muster customers over the next three months will allow regional consumers greater flexibility to engage with education, telehealth, businesses and government services without worrying about exceeding their data cap.

Disability informationWhere do I go for help?                             

Disability Information Helpline


The Australian Government has launched a new Disability Information Helpline for people with disability, their families, carers, support workers and services who need help because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you have a COVID-19 related question and do not know where to start, you can contact the Helpline from Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (AEST) and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 7pm (AEST) in the following ways:

  • Phone (free call): 1800 643 787
  • If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can also call the National Relay Service on 133 677.

 

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Telco Customer Service ChangesCall centres for Telstra, Vodafone, Optus, ALDI Mobile, and some other telcos have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. This means that there is likely to be extended wait times if you contact their customer support teams via phone or instant chat.

TPG has closed their call centre support so you will need to contact them through the online chat support.

Belong have also closed their call centre and are working at a reduced capacity. They have advised it may take over 48 hours to respond to requests for support. More information about supports available is available on their blog.

Dodo are encouraging customers to continue using self-help features however they do have calls operating again, with reduced operating hours. More information is available on Dodo's website.

Telcos have asked customers to use self-service channels (such as the My Optus app, the Telstra 24x7 app, or MyVodafone) to trouble-shoot their issues where possible.

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Family looking for Telco AssistanceLearn what support is available from telcos, NBN Co and state governments for families and households.

  • NBN Education Assistance Packages - NBN has provided funding for telcos to offer cheaper nbn plans for low-income families. Find out what plans are available and if you are eligible.

 

  • Online Learning and Access to Devices - COVID-19 containment measures have required many school students to learn from home. Find out what device loan programs are in place for students and families across the country.

 

 

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COVID19: Telco services and technology

During the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing social distancing and self-isolation efforts have resulted in millions of Australians increasingly relying on their phone and home broadband services.

ACCAN has pulled together the telco information you need to know on:

 

Unfortunately, some Australians are at risk of being left behind because they are unable to afford a home broadband service. As this becomes the main way that people can study, work, and access telehealth services from home – this is simply not acceptable. ACCAN is calling for affordable home broadband to be prioritised now.

A coalition of nearly 30 community sector organisations and advocates has urged the Federal Government to address the affordability of communications services and equipment to support Australians in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community Sector Organisations Call on Government to Act on Communications Affordability Issues

Find out more on
#NoAustralianLeftOffline

To help communications consumers understand the latest updates from the telco sector and how consumers may be affected, ACCAN will updating our live blogs with new developments as they occur.

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The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has urged the Federal Government to prioritise a specific stimulus strategy for telecommunications services to keep Australians connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continuing social distancing and self-isolation efforts have resulted in millions of Australians increasingly relying on their home broadband service. As Australia’s peak body representing telecommunications consumers, ACCAN is calling on the Government to fast-track a proposal for a wholesale broadband concession that would provide financially stressed Australians with cheaper home broadband.

ACCAN has made a submission in response to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights and Technology Discussion Paper. This follows our 2018 submission in response to the Human Rights and Technology Issues Paper.

The Discussion Paper considers possible responses to the human rights challenges and opportunities brought about by new and emerging technologies. It consolidates the responses to previous rounds of consultation, and outlines the Australian Human Rights Commission’s thinking on a range of issues. In the Discussion Paper, the Australian Human Rights Commission offers a range of proposals designed to address the impact that new and emerging technologies have on human rights. This includes discussion of the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and AI-informed decision making, and of accessible technologies.

ACCAN has made submissions to various state-based inquiries regarding the 2019-20 bushfire season, including the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry, the SA Fire and Emergency Service Commission's independent review into South Australia's 2019-20 bushfire season, and the Inspector-General for Emergency Management's inquiry into the 2019-20 Victorian fire season. We have also submitted to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements and the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee. ACCAN’s submissions focused on the impact of bushfires on communications infrastructure and reliability, and how this affected communications consumers.

The ACMA is reviewing the Telecommunications (Provision of Pre-Selection) Determination 2015 to assess whether it remains fit-for-purpose. The Determination outlines the requirement for telco service providers to allow consumers to use ‘pre-selectable services’. Pre-selection allows consumers with landline phones on the copper network to use one telco service provider for local calls to other landline phones, but another provider for other types of calling, to mobile or international numbers for example.

ACCAN has no objection to the ACMA taking steps to withdraw the Determination, so long as the ACMA is certain there will be minimal impact on residential and small businesses consumers. Should the Determination be withdrawn, any consumers with pre-selectable services activated on their account need to be provided with adequate information and support while transitioned away from these services.

ACCAN has written a submission in response to the draft Regional Connectivity Program Grant Opportunity Guidelines.

ACCAN was pleased to see the Grant Opportunity Guidelines prioritised the place-based needs of local communities and directed applicants to draw on advice from local industry, business, and community groups, not-for-profits and First Nations community-controlled organisations. The inclusion of three funding streams, including a low-budget option for smaller projects, will also mean more regional, rural and remote communities will be in a position to apply for funding.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has called on the nation’s telecommunications networks to ensure that no Australian is left offline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the world is undoubtedly entering uncertain times, it has been widely acknowledged that telecommunications networks will have an increasingly important role in keeping consumers connected. COVID-19 is expected to highlight the now vital role of reliable telecommunications services in the everyday lives of Australians, whether for work, education, health, or social use.

“The fact is that an internet connection is now a basic utility,” said ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin. “If people can’t afford to be online, or aren’t guaranteed a reliable connection, there can be serious consequences.”

For World Consumer Rights Day 2020, ACCAN looks at how consumers can do their part to promote sustainability in the telco sector.

Sustainability is an evolving issue for industries around the world. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the way that we produce and consume goods and services, including in the telco sector.

Nearly 90% of Australians now own a mobile phone1. For many of us, they have become the go-to device to keep in touch socially and for work, to take photos, and to navigate from place to place. As mobile phones continue to evolve to include features like foldable screens and multi-lens cameras, it’s worth taking a moment to consider what resources go into making these smart devices.

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ACCAN recently submitted to the Department of Home Affairs consultation on the draft voluntary Internet of Things (IoT) Code of Practice. The Department of Home Affairs drafted the voluntary Code to help protect consumers from the potential security and privacy threats posed by IoT connected devices.

The lack of effective security and privacy protections often found in IoT devices mean they are a gateway for hackers to gain unauthorised access to private in-home Wi-Fi networks. Connected devices also collect vast amounts of sensitive personal data for advertising and other purposes which can be accessed by fraudsters.

Passage of the Telecommunications Reform Package is a key step towards guaranteeing country communities access to reliable communications, according to the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC).

Due before the Senate in March, the Telecommunications Reform Package aims to provide improved access to broadband services across the country with an emphasis on regional, rural and remote areas. This would be made possible through the introduction of two separate Bills – the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer) Bill 2019 and the Telecommunications (Regional Broadband Scheme) Charge Bill 2019.

Last year, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) commissioned research into the quality of live captions on Free-to-Air TV. We commissioned this research after receiving feedback from consumers and our members about the quality of live captions on TV.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications is seeking feedback on the design and implementation of an online Digital Technology Hub. The Digital Technology Hub will support regional, rural and remote Australians to make the most of their phone and internet services. The Digital Technology Hub is intended to provide information and resources to people in non-metropolitan areas, to help them solve issues with their phone and internet.

ACCAN supports the introduction of a Digital Tech Hub for people in regional and remote areas of Australia. Our submission listed a number of recommendations for the Department to adopt, so that the Digital Tech Hub targets the diverse needs of regional Australians, builds on existing knowledge, and is widely publicised.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has welcomed the announcement of additional identity checks as a positive step towards protecting mobile phone users against scammers.

The introduction of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)’s new Telecommunications (Mobile Number Pre-porting Additional Identity Verification) Industry Standard 2020 aims to prevent fraudulent number porting by requiring telcos to apply stronger identity checks before they transfer a mobile phone number to another provider.

New complaints data highlights the growing impact that unreliable telco services have on small businesses, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

The Quarter 2 Complaints report released today by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) shows that while overall phone and internet complaints are declining, the percentage of complaints coming from small businesses continues to increase.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, previously named the Department of Communications and Arts, is looking to trial alternative ways of delivering voice (home phone) services in regional, rural and remote (RRR) areas. The Department is focusing particularly on areas in the high capacity radio concentrator (HCRC) footprint, where voice services are delivered via radio technology, rather than copper or via the Internet.

The Department is seeking feedback on how the trials should be designed, run and evaluated. ACCAN supports the trials as a welcome step towards delivering quality and reliable voice services in regional, rural and remote areas. We argued that a number of improvements could be made to the Department’s proposal, including: introducing performance benchmarks for trial services, developing minimum service assurances for participating consumers, and developing robust feedback mechanisms for all trial participants.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) conducted a consultation regarding proposed amendments to the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2019. This Determination imposes requirements on carriers, carriage service providers and emergency call persons (Telstra and the National Relay Service provider) regarding access to the emergency call service (000, 112, 106). This consultation was in response to issues raised by the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation.

ACCAN recently submitted to the ACMA’s review of the NBN consumer experience rules.

The rules focus on improving the way the telco industry handles consumer complaints about the NBN, provides information about the NBN to consumers, and ensures consumers have access to a working service. The consumer experience rules also provide for the regulation of the migration of services from the legacy network onto the NBN.

ACCAN has provided a brief submission to the Communications Alliance review of Guideline G660:2018, Assisting Customers Experiencing Domestic and Family Violence. This Guideline offers education to telco providers about the impacts of domestic and family violence and how they can help customers who are experiencing domestic or family violence.

In our response, ACCAN outlined that more information is needed about whether the Guideline is currently being used by telcos. Once more is known about the use of the Guideline, ACCAN believes that the intended audience of certain parts of the Guideline could be reviewed to make it more user friendly for telco staff. We also suggested that the length of the Guideline could be reviewed given the length of other industry guidance notes regarding domestic and family violence.

The summary below outlines ACCAN's activities from 1 September – 30 November 2019.

ACCAN recently submitted to ACMA’s Draft Telecommunications (Mobile Number Pre-Porting Additional Identity Verification) Industry Standard 2020. ACMA drafted the Standard to help prevent the unauthorised porting of mobile service numbers and reduce the damage done to consumers from this activity.

Mobile number fraud is a gateway to identity and financial theft. ACCAN is aware of numerous reports by victims of fraudulent number porting which reinforce the need for stronger protections.

ACCAN recently submitted to the Department of Communications and the Arts review of the 2015 Telecommunications in New Developments (TIND) Policy. The policy governs the development of telecommunications infrastructure in new greenfields sites and competition between private sector infrastructure providers and NBN Co.

ACCAN is regularly contacted by consumers residing in non-NBN networked new areas that are experiencing poor service outcomes through slow or intermittent services, while facing higher than competitive retail prices for services that are often lower value than their NBN alternative. However, systematic evidence of poor outcomes is limited due to the opacity of current reporting arrangements.

ACCAN recently submitted to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the NBN inquiry into the business case for the NBN and experience of small businesses.

The Committee is inquiring into the rollout of the NBN and the performance of NBN Co. in relation to its key financial and economic forecasts, coverage, the delivery of services to small and medium businesses, as well as pricing and in particular the effect of pricing on low-income and rural and regional consumers.

As bushfires continue to burn across the country, a reliable phone service quickly becomes a lifeline.

ACCAN is aware of reports of network outages due to blackouts and power failures in bushfire affected areas. It’s important to know that unless you have a battery back-up, your NBN home phone will not work during a power outage. As a precaution, it is best to have a charged mobile phone that you can use during a power outage.

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Brick building with EMERGENCY sign

When disaster strikes, you want to be able to call for help. As Australia makes the switch to the NBN, it’s important to know that traditional methods of connecting to emergency services may not work.

In the event of a power outage, phone and internet services provided over the NBN network will not work. This will also affect any medical alarms or security alarms that you may have which connect through the NBN.

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In December 2019, ACCAN submitted to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee consultation on the telecommunications legislative reform package. The consultation focused on two Bills under consideration by the Federal Parliament – the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer) Bill and the Telecommunications (Regional Broadband Scheme) Charge Bill.

ACCAN magazine Summer 2019

Download: pdfACCAN Magazine Issue 34 Summer 2019985.51 KB

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Image shows a rectangluar present with Merry Christmas printed across the wrapping paper. It has a red bow on the top left hand corner.As we head into the festive season, many of us will be thinking about what new gadget we’d like to find under the Christmas tree or snap up in the Boxing Day sales. With the telcos stepping up their advertising around 5G, many people have started to look into purchasing 5G phones and home broadband plans. If you’re keen to be one of these early-adopters, don’t sign on the dotted line before you’ve read our tips below.

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Telco customers will benefit from clearer communication from their providers; however, further efforts will be needed to protect consumers against unreliable telco services, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

Released today, the Morrison Government’s Consumer Safeguards Review Part B report provides a high-level framework that aims to address reliability issues of telco services at the wholesale and retail level.

 glenn carstens peters EOQhsfFBhRk unsplashACCAN welcomes the Government’s recent announcement that it will provide a total of $4 Million in funding to the national broadcasters, ABC and SBS, to introduce audio described broadcast content in the 2020/21 financial year. ACCAN, along with Australia’s blindness sector and consumer groups have been advocating for the introduction of audio description across free-to-air television for many years.

Audio description is a verbal narration of visual elements of programming. The narration coincides with the program’s audio track with the description interspersed between dialogue.

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ACCAN recently submitted to the ACCC’s inquiry into NBN Access Pricing. The inquiry examined the possibility of ACCC regulating the price of entry level NBN services, in order to facilitate consistent pricing for services that are equivalent to legacy ADSL internet services.

ACCAN is supportive of measures being taken to allow for consumers to smoothly transition to NBN services without facing material increases in the price of their existing service.

Although broadly supportive of the ACCC’s inquiry, ACCAN argued that:

  • The best approach to providing pricing relief is through the introduction of a funded concessional broadband service for low income households;
  • If pricing regulation of the NBN is implemented, it should be applied to the 25/5Mbps speed tier rather than the 12/1Mbps speed tier;
  • The proposed retail price point of $60 for (a 12/1Mbps service) was well in excess of what many consumers can afford to pay.

The telco industry peak body, Communications Alliance, is reviewing the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) Code. The IPND is a secure database that stores all listed and unlisted public numbers assigned to communications services. These include numbers assigned to a telephone, fax machine, or connected device like a tablet or car that can make and receive calls via Bluetooth. The IPND includes information about the service, including the name of the customer, the telco that provides the number, and the where the ‘service address’ is (that is, the street address where the customer lives or where telephone service is located).

The IPND Code sets out rules for telcos that supply information to the IPND, and for anyone that uses information from the IPND. In a 2018 review of the IPND, the ACMA found that a large portion of information was inaccurate. The IPND Code is being updated to make sure that telcos frequently compare their customer information with information in the IPND, and correct any discrepancies that are discovered.

The ACMA is reviewing rules about international mobile roaming (IMR) for Australian telcos. They have proposed that International Mobile Roaming rules should be applied via a service provider determination, rather than an industry standard. This makes the rules administratively simpler to change and increases the maximum penalty for non-compliance. The ACMA has proposed a few other updates to mobile roaming regulation with the intention of making the rules more flexible for customers and telcos.

ACCAN supports of some, but not all, of the proposed changes. We agree with the tightening of existing International Mobile Roaming rules. However, we are concerned that some flexibility measures are too discretionary, and fail to provide appropriate consumer protections.

ACCAN made a submission to the House of Representatives inquiry into 5G in Australia. ACCAN highlighted the need for whole of community engagement in the roll-out of 5G across Australia, emphasising the role that the telecommunications industry and government agencies need to undertake to ensure that consumer information is easily accessible, reliable and evidence based.

ACCAN participated on the review of the industry code, C625 Information on Accessible Features for Telephone Equipment Code. The Code requires handset manufacturers to provide information about the accessibility features on their handsets to telcos. It also requires that handset manufacturers make this same information freely available to consumers. The updated Code also includes ACCAN’s Accessible Telecoms service as an alternative way for consumers to get information about accessibility features for handsets.

Telcos must play their part if consumers are to benefit from changes to NBN Co’s wholesale pricing and data capacity, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

Changes announced today by NBN Co will give telcos more flexibility in what they can offer their customers, starting with a reduction in the wholesale price of a modified 25Mbps service from December 2019. Importantly, these changes to 25Mbps services will affect both fixed line and fixed wireless plans, which mean that households in both metropolitan and regional areas should be able to benefit from cheaper broadband and better options. However, this is entirely dependent on telcos passing the changes on to their customers.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) recently sought feedback on its Draft Privacy Safeguard Guidelines for the Consumer Data Right (CDR) regime. The Guidelines explain the Information Commissioner’s interpretation of the privacy safeguards and Consumer Data Rules, and provide examples of how the privacy safeguards and Consumer Data Rules may apply in certain situations. As the CDR regime will be extended to the telecommunications sector in the future, after first being implemented in the banking and energy sectors, ACCAN provided a response to the OAIC’s Guidelines.

Missed NBN appointments are costing Australians over $15 million per year in lost time, according to analysis from the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

The staggering financial impact of NBN Co’s 320 missed appointments per day1 was revealed in ACCAN’s response to the ACCC’s draft decision on the NBN wholesale service standards inquiry.

ACCAN has submitted to the ACCC’s consultation concerning its draft decision on Wholesale Service Standards. The purpose of the inquiry is to determine whether NBN wholesale service levels are appropriate and to consider whether a determination on service levels is required to improve customer outcomes. ACCAN has long advocated for reform of existing customer service guarantees surrounding connection timeframes, fault rectification and network reliability.

NBN Co’s proposed wholesale pricing changes are unlikely to meet the needs of consumers, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

In September, NBN Co released a consultation paper to the telco industry that aimed to increase the number of households connected to the NBN. While the proposals outlined in this paper show that NBN Co is listening to ACCAN’s concerns about the current wholesale pricing arrangements, there is still considerable work to be done to ensure that consumers’ needs and expectations of their home broadband service are met.

“While we’re pleased that NBN Co has acknowledged broadband affordability is an important issue for many Australians, we’re concerned their proposals will not address this vital problem,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin.

NBN Co is consulting on options to change its wholesale prices to lift the demand for its broadband services, and on options for managing network usage to make services more attractive for retailers and consumers. Unusually, NBN Co has published its consultation paper, a move supported by ACCAN.

The Department of Home Affairs has been undertaking consultation around the development of Australia’s next Cyber Security Strategy. The current Cyber Security Strategy was written in 2016 and set goals to be completed over four years.

ACCAN has responded to the Department of Home Affairs’ discussion paper, to ensure that the experiences of consumers, including small businesses, are reflected in the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy. In our submission we focused on consumer concerns about cyber security, including the impact that cybercrimes have on consumers, including small businesses; the information asymmetry that can exist between consumers and manufacturers; and the threats to consumer privacy that can occur due to cyberattacks or insecure connected devices.

The increase in complaints about internet services to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) highlights the need for greater reliability safeguards, says the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

The TIO’s quarterly report shows that of the 32,801 complaints they received from 1 July– 30 September 2019, the majority (33 per cent) were related to internet issues. This is a 4 per cent increase from the same period last year.

The Australian Media and Communication Authority’s reported drop in telco complaints shows that consumers are starting to benefit from increased industry regulation and new complaint handling rules, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

The Department of the Treasury, as one of the agencies involved in the implementation of the Consumer Data Right (CDR) regime, recently appointed Maddocks lawyers to conduct an independent privacy impact assessment regarding the initial implementation of the CDR. Maddocks has completed their draft privacy impact assessment report and requested stakeholder feedback on this draft.

Given that the CDR regime will be extended to the telecommunications sector, after first being implemented in the banking and energy sectors, ACCAN has been engaging with issues relating to the CDR and its implementation. This includes a short response to Maddocks’ draft privacy impact assessment.

ACCAN has made a submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Mobile Terminating Access Service (MTAS) inquiry, about the ACCC’s Final Access Determination (FAD) on price and non-price terms.

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Picture showing map of Australia and voting box exclaiming 'What communications consumers need to know for the Federal Election 2016'Do you:

Have a mobile phone? 
Use broadband? 
Watch television? 
Stream online content?

If you answer yes to any of these questions then
ACCAN’s Federal Election 2016 webpage is for you.

As the peak body for consumer representation in communications ACCAN – Australian Communications Consumer Action Network – represents your interests to get the best deal for consumers.

For the upcoming Federal Election on 2 July we have identified five communications consumer priorities for 2016. These important issues are our focus in the lead up to and after the election. See below for these priorities.

To find out more about their communications policies, we have posed a series of questions to the major political parties. When the answers are available we will post them on this webpage.

You can read further on our communications consumer priorities by clicking the links below or on the left-hand side of the screen. Get in touch with ACCAN if you have any questions on these topics.

 

Banner image for ACCAN Events picturing ACCAN CEO and industry representatives taking part in a consultative forum.

As part of our commitment to community and industry consultation, ACCAN runs and attends a number of events each year.  Our current and upcoming events are profiled on this page.  ACCAN encourages its Members to profile their communications events through our website.

If you would like any further information regarding our events, or to include your event on our site, please contact us.

You can see the transcripts and speakers' presentations from ACCANect 2019: Communications + Consumers: The next ten years on the conference event page.  If you are looking for information regarding past events it can be found in the events archive.

ACCAN administers an Independent Grants Scheme aimed to support consumer research and consumer representation that helps us achieve our strategic goals

Welcome to the ACCAN employment page.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, ACCAN, a not-for-profit organisation, maintains an accessible work environment and encourages applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, persons with disabilities and people from culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse backgrounds.

ACCAN is Australia’s peak body representing the interests of all consumers in communications issues. ACCAN is an important and independent consumer voice promoting the accessibility, quality of service, affordability and availability of communications services for all Australian consumers with particular concern for vulnerable consumers whose needs are underrepresented.

  • High profile consumer body
  • Communications industry
  • Diverse, interesting role working in vibrant NGO
  • Supportive work environment
  • Sydney CBD location with easy access to public transport


The quarterly ACCAN members magazine casts a spotlight on our most recent work, discusses current trends and contains exclusive interviews with a broad range of players in the telecommunications sector. If you'd like to start receiving your own hard copy of the ACCAN magazine, simply sign up to become an ACCAN member today.

Our collection of past ACCAN members magazines are available to download below.

 

Media Releases

ACCAN's work informs public debate about consumer issues in the communications landscape.  Welcome to our collection of the latest news and current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

Sign up for ACCAN's weekly newsletter to have these news items emailed to you each week.

Media enquiries:
Mobile: 0409 966 931 (calls only, no texts please)
Phone: 02 9288 4000
media (at) accan.org.au

 

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Hot Issues

Welcome to the latest current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

Sign up for ACCAN's weekly newsletter to have these news items sent to your email address each week.

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There's no doubt communications are essential to our daily lives but with technology moving fast, sometimes it's hard to keep up!

We produce a range of tip sheets that provide simple tips and tricks to help with a range of common telecommunications issues.