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Welcome to the latest current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

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Communications towers in outback settingLast year Queensland Remote Aboriginal Media (QRAM), in conjunction with ACCAN, released what is believed to be the first consumer resources produced in Indigenous languages.

Working with design agency, Gilimbaa, QRAM created a series of audio tracks with information on what you should think about before buying a mobile phone, how to keep internet and phone costs low, what people can do if they get a large or unexpected bill and more. The project also produced a series of colourful posters that cover the same issues.

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Cotton picking machineThe cotton industry is an integral part of the Australian economy, worth more than $1.5 billion in export earnings for the 2015-16 season and employing on average 10,000 people.

Cotton Australia, the peak industry body for Australia’s cotton industry, is one of ACCAN’s newest members. The organisation is also a member of the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition.

As a member of both ACCAN and the Coalition, Cotton Australia has highlighted telecommunications issues many cotton growers experience, including poor to no mobile service, unreliable internet services with speeds and data caps that often mean growers struggle to send an email, let alone capitalise on all the benefits of ‘smart’ agriculture.

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Senior man using mobile phoneThe Australian mobile network providers have all announced the switch off of their 2G networks:

  • Optus’ 2G network will switch off from 3 April, 2017
  • Vodafone’s 2G network will switch off on 30 September, 2017
  • Telstra’s 2G network was switched off on 1 December, 2016

This article has information for consumers using 2G services on the Optus and Vodafone networks.

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Family using tablets and laptopMarch 15 is World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD). WCRD is an opportunity to promote the basic rights of all consumers, demanding that those rights are respected and protected, and a chance to protest against the market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights.

The theme for WCRD 2017 is ‘Building a Digital World Consumers can Trust.’ To tie into this theme, this blog looks at where consumers can turn to when they need to make a complaint, get advice or report scams and cyberbullying.

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Female small business owner using phone and laptopA recent ACCAN survey of 100 small businesses found that 96 of the respondents had experienced at least one issue with their telecommunications services. With many small businesses relying on these services to operate, this is a concerning figure. When services don’t deliver, this can mean lost profits and productivity for small businesses.

The top issues experienced by the respondents were issues with: internet speeds, internet congestion during peak times, costs and outages. The most prevalent issue was slow data speed, with 73 respondents reporting this problem.

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Woman talking on landline phoneThis is part three in our series of blogs looking at issues highlighted by ACCAN stakeholders at public hearings for the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry on the Universal Service Obligation (USO).

This post looks at affordability concerns highlighted by the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) and issues raised by ACCAN member, Bruce Bebbington, at the public hearing held in Perth.

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Laptop and landline phone on a deskIn late January/early February members of the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition attended public hearings to voice concerns on the Productivity Commission’s draft inquiry report on the Universal Service Obligation (USO).

This post covers the hearings attended by Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), AgForce Queensland and Better Internet for Rural, Regional & Remote Australia (BIRRR).

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Outback mobile tower and windmillThe first of many issues in 2017 to be a focus for the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition was the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report for the Inquiry into the Universal Service Obligation (USO).

The USO underpins consumers’ access to phone services, including payphones. While many may have never heard about the USO, it is an important obligation that aims to ensure voice services are available and accessible to all Australians.

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NBN satellite ground station, Wolumla, AustraliaThe Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition is urging the approximately 1200 households who have not yet switched from the Interim Satellite Service (ISS) to the Sky Muster National Broadband Network (nbn) satellite service to do so as soon as possible.

"These households need to switch before 28 February or they will be left without an internet service. They should contact their preferred provider as soon as practicable to arrange a new service," NFF President Fiona Simson said.

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