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Welcome to the latest current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

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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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Magnifying glass on top of documentThis week a Federal Parliamentary Committee is expected to report on a draft bill to amend the Competition and Consumer Act telco specific provisions. In this blog we will outline our assessment of the impact on consumers. This is the approach we took in our response to the Department of Communications and the Arts consultation on the proposed changes in October 2016.

Not surprisingly, Telstra is generally supportive of the removal of the telco specific rules. However, other telecommunications industry providers are taking a different approach as they believe the removal of the specific rules would weaken competition in the telco sector.

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Laptop on a  deskBroadband is now considered essential to provide access to services and employment opportunities, as well as entertainment and education. This is true for all consumers, no matter whether they live in regional, rural or remote areas or in the cities.

Reliable broadband connections are also pivotal for small businesses and farmers who often rely on them to run their businesses. Internet connections provide opportunities for farmers to use sophisticated agricultural software to monitor yield predictions and more. But when services fail, there are no guarantees that apply to internet services to ensure faults are fixed within certain timeframes. This can result in long outages, meaning lost money and productivity for farmers and small businesses, and frustration for general consumers.

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Grand Intentions book coverGrand Intentions, a new novel by Professor Trevor Barr, was inspired by the Australian telco industry. The novel tells the story of a fictitious telecommunications company, Telco One, as it undergoes major changes.

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Kate CarnellMany small businesses rely on telecommunication services to operate. When services do not deliver, this can result in losses for small business owners.

To get insights into what telecommunication issues small businesses are facing and hear more about what they need from their services, we interviewed the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), Kate Carnell.

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