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Welcome to the latest current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

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Teresa Corbin - ACCAN CEOACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin, presented at the CommsDay Summit 2018 in Sydney on 9 April. This year's CommsDay Summit brought together telecoms industry leaders and politicians from across the country to discuss topics including the NBN, 5G, fixed and wireless technologies and the market.

The speakers included Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Telstra CEO, Andy Penn, as well as representatives from NBN, Huawei, Vodafone, ACMA and other telecommunications providers.

Teresa's presentation focused on four of ACCAN's key priorities for consumers in 2018:

• NBN & Consumers

• Consumer Protection

• Rural & Regional Issues

• Latest Affordability Stats

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Save the date for ACCANect 2018: 12-13 Sept 2018In 2018, technology and digital services are all around us. Consumers use the internet and telecommunications services to stay connected, go shopping, link into education and job opportunities and access government services.

While we increasingly live our lives online, it’s vital that we don’t leave anyone behind. What gaps will appear in the connected world? Who will and won’t be able to access services due to limitations on connectivity? What can we do to ensure that people are not only connected but they also have the confidence to use new technologies to their benefit?

We will explore these questions and more at the 2018 ACCANect Conference which has the theme: ‘Confidence in the Connected World.’

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cats playing with broadbandThe Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) released its first results from its Measuring Broadband Australia speed monitoring program and the results are generally positive, with NBN broadband services from iiNet, Optus, Telstra and TPG delivering between 80 per cent and just over 90 per cent of maximum plan speeds during peak times (7-11pm). On download speeds, out of the four, TPG beat the other three with 90.7 per cent, followed by iiNet with 88.6 per cent, then Telstra with 88.1 per cent, and Optus with 90.7 per cent. The service providers are also achieving positive upload speeds.

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Gavel banging on blockTelstra admitted that over 100,000 of its customers were misled over third party charges by its Premium Billing service.

Yesterday, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched proceedings against the telco giant, alleging that Telstra made false or misleading representations to consumers regarding its third party billing services.

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CPRC CEO, Lauren SolomonThe Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC) is an independent, consumer-focused policy think-tank.

In December 2016, the Victorian Government established CPRC as a generalist policy research centre by expanding the remit of what was then the Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre (CUAC).

CPRC undertakes evidence-based research to inform policy reform and business practice changes that improve consumer outcomes. The organisation conducts policy research internally, as well as in partnership with other research organisations. It also promotes, translates and supports the consumer research work of others.

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Woman signing and using a smartphoneThe National Relay Service, audio description services and accessible ICT procurement were among the issues on the agenda at ACCAN’s 2018 Disability Advisory Forum on Wednesday 7 March in Sydney.

Held yearly, the Disability Advisory Forum brings together groups representing people with disability to discuss telecommunications issues and accessibility and advises ACCAN on its policy priorities for the upcoming year.

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Jar full of rolled up $100 billsIn our 2018-19 Pre-Budget submission, we took the opportunity to highlight telecommunication areas that could benefit from more funding in the Federal Budget.

Our recommendations span a range of issues, from mobile coverage to affordability and accessibility. Many of these are not new recommendations, but they are ones that are important to consumers and worth highlighting once again.

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Hands holding cordless phoneACCAN has welcomed Telstra’s announcement that it will no longer charge its customers for having a Silent Line from 18 February, 2018.

Having a Silent Line means that your number is not listed in a public directory or displayed on the recipient’s handset when you make a call. Previously, Telstra customers had to pay $2.93 per month for this service.

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Model house sitting on top of moneyIn November, the ACCC announced that Telstra will offer remedies to around 42,000 customers. Announcements that Optus would compensate more than 8,700 of its customers and that TPG would compensate nearly 8,000 of its customers for the same issue were made in December.

Both announcements received wide coverage in the media. There is some confusion around the issue and who is entitled to a remedy. This blog attempts to clear up this confusion.

What is the issue?

While there are a number of issues that consumers are reporting with services over the NBN, this compensation relates to a very specific problem where the maximum download speed consumers paid for was never possible at their premises.

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