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Welcome to the latest current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

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Complaints from small businesses about their telecommunications services increased 52 per cent in the last financial year, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) reports in the latest issue of TIO Talks, published today.

More than 22,000 complaints were made in 2010-11 by small businesses unable to resolve issues with service providers. Complaints about inadequate or incorrect customer service advice, poor mobile phone coverage, broken promises and bill disputes were the most common issues.

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The 2012 Round of the ACCAN Grants Scheme opens today with $250,000 in funding available for consumer-focused telecommunications research and consumer education or advocacy tools.

Now in its third year, the ACCAN Grants Scheme funds projects that help to work towards the organisation’s vision of affordable communications services for all Australians.

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If you have a problem with a mobile phone handset or other piece of telecommunications equipment don’t ignore it.

Under Australia’s new consumer laws, if you buy a product and it is faulty you have the right to take it back to where you bought it and ask the business to fix the problem. The same applies if you engage a service and it is not provided to an appropriate standard.

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ACCAN has today released new Grants Guidelines ahead of the opening of the 2012 Round of the ACCAN Grants Scheme on Monday 20th February.

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ACCAN is pleased to announce the appointment of two new members to its Standing Advisory Committees, Ms Karin Ness and Ms Catherine Clark. ACCAN has two Standing Advisory Committees: the Standing Advisory Committee on Consumer Affairs (SACCA), and Standing Advisory Committee on Disability Issues (SACDI). The Committees' members provide guidance and expertise on current and emerging communications issues affecting consumers.

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Peak consumer body ACCAN says current and ex Vodafone customers will be left shaking their heads today when they discover that, 12 months on, the telecommunications regulator has let the provider off virtually scot-free for the widespread network, complaint-handling problems that plagued Vodafone customers last summer.

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 The ACMA Communications Report 2010-11 was released today. This major piece of research provides a snapshot of the communications services available and the preferences of Australian consumers. Here’s some key statistics that may be of interest to ACCAN members:

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After a year of community calls for action, including those made Fair Calls for All superhero, Number Woman, the telecommunications regulator, the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA), has proposed changes so that 1800 numbers will be free and 13/1300 numbers will cost about 30 cents to call from a mobile phone, just as they currently do from landlines.

Now’s the time to take action! The ACMA wants to hear from interested parties by this Wednesday 30th November. So far we've had over 750 people make a submission, and we've made it easy for you to share your story.

Send a message to the ACMA to say that you want Fair Calls For All. It only takes a minute or two!

Further background on the Fair Calls campaign

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ACCAN Chief Executive Teresa Corbin and Senior Policy Adviser Jonathan Gadir have given evidence in front of the Joint Committee: National Broadband Network (Rollout of the National Broadband Network) in Sydney this morning. They discussed the need for low-income broadband affordability measures, voice-only services and the demand for consumers for independent information about the NBN.

Earlier this year ACCAN published a NBN: Guide for Consumers, which Corbin says has been very much in demand. ACCAN says it looks forward to the establishment of a Consumer Advisory Panel within NBN Co, to meet quarterly to discuss issues that are of concern to consumers. 

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