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Welcome to the latest current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

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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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Group of people holding smartphonesComplaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) about excess data charges have been steadily dropping over the past year. This is most likely due to better value excess data packs (most telcos now charge about $10 for 1GB) and plans with bigger data allowances being offered by the telcos.

While complaints are down, excess data charges can still be a shock on your monthly bill, especially if you are on a tight budget. Extra data packs that automatically kick in are convenient, but most of these data packs expire when your monthly billing period is up. It is important to watch your data usage because you may spend extra money on data that you might not get to use.

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Man using mobile phone at airportAustralian telcos have taken action to reduce bill shock from global roaming by introducing roaming packs. But before travelling, you should consider all your options for global roaming, especially if you are on a tight budget. Check out your options for global roaming below.

Do you need to use your phone number while overseas?

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone offer their customers global roaming packs that include calls, text and data, at an extra cost. Virgin Mobile offers roaming packs that only include data. Signing up to a roaming pack can be a good option if you need to be contactable overseas on your Australian mobile number.

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Man using iPadWith the NBN rollout picking up momentum, we’re looking at some tips that can help you choose a good value internet plan. We have had a running debate around the ACCAN office about what good value actually means in a telco product – is it the cheapest? What about quality? Good value means different things to different people, for most people it is probably the best quality you can afford.

We know that many consumers cannot yet access the NBN. These tips may still be useful in choosing a plan over other networks. If you are connecting to Sky Muster, check out our guide.

To find out if you can connect to the NBN, check their website.

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Couple sitting on lounge using a phone and laptopMany vital services and equipment use telecommunications infrastructure to work, such as telephone and voice services, internet, disability equipment (tele-typewriters), fax machines, medical alarms, security alarms, EFTPOS machines and emergency elevator phones.

These services and equipment may be affected in the switch over to the National Broadband Network (NBN).

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The ACCAN Annual General Meeting was held in Sydney on Thursday, 15 September, 2016. At the meeting the following three candidates were elected to the Board:

  • Sarah Wilson
  • Dean Barton-Smith
  • Nadia Moffatt

Congratulations to returning director, Dean, and a warm welcome to Sarah and Nadia who are joining the ACCAN Board for the first time.

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Snail sliding across a computer keyboardIf your broadband speeds are consistently lower than those advertised by your internet service provider (ISP) or is unreliable at any time during the day, you should contact your provider and clearly state that you want to make a complaint.

Explain how your internet is slow or unreliable. Evidence, such as recorded speed tests (many IPSs offer this on their website, or you can try other online speed tests such as Ookla’s Speedtest) or examples of times when you are unable or have difficulty using the service.

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

Find resouces on political party policies, election issues and more.