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ACCAN's work informs public debate about consumer issues in the communications landscape.  Welcome to our collection of the latest news and current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

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New analysis commissioned by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) shows that urgent action is needed to address the digital divide in remote Indigenous communities in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns.

While much of the nation turned to digital services such as videoconferencing and telehealth during the rolling lockdowns put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic, very few remote Indigenous communities were able to work or learn from home, or access government and health services online. With access by service providers limited by travel restrictions, many people were left without access to essential services. In some remote communities, the Wi-Fi hotspot, the only point of access, was switched off to avoid people congregating.

“COVID-19 saw communities without food and necessities of life because of the lack of access to adequate, reliable, and robust telecommunications,” said ACCAN Board Member and proud Torres Strait Islander, Dr Heron Loban.

The Australian Communication Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) welcomed today’s announced measures from the ACCC to improve the affordability of entry-level nbn plan, and to ensure that consumers are better compensated for missed nbn appointments.

“The issue of affordable broadband has never been more real for the millions of Australians who have turned to online services this year for access to healthcare, education, work, and government services,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin.

“We’re pleased that following the ACCC’s recommendation, NBN Co have agreed to reduce the price of their entry-level access bundle. However, it is disappointing that the ACCC has not recognised that 12/1 Mbps nbn plans are not an adequate entry-level option for most consumers.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has welcomed NBN Co’s decision to extend its Education Assistance offer until 15 January 2021. The targeted offer from NBN Co waives the wholesale costs for many services on the 25/5 Mbps speed tier and encourages telcos to offer free or heavily discounted nbn plans to low-income households with school-aged children.

“The nbn Education Assistance offer has meant that thousands of low-income households have been able to connect to the nbn for the first time,” said ACCAN Director of Policy, Una Lawrence.

“Without the financial assistance from this offer, many struggling households couldn’t afford a fixed home broadband connection. This would leave countless children offline and unable to learn from home during the rolling shutdowns of schools across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has welcomed action by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) against telcos who breached consumer protection rules.

“Telstra, Optus, TPG and Dodo are four of the country’s biggest telcos; they know the rules regarding migrating to the NBN and what they need to do to keep consumers connected. It is very disappointing that they have failed their customers by leaving them without a working internet service,” said ACCAN Director of Policy, Una Lawrence.

“To have over 8,000 total breaches of NBN service continuity rules is simply unacceptable. The ACMA may need to keep a closer eye on this issue as the NBN roll-out finishes and many more Australians make the switch.”

New research from the National Youth Commission of Australia (NYC) highlights the need to urgently address internet affordability, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

The NYC’s Inquiry into Youth Employment and Transitions Interim Findings Report shows that limited access to technology, insufficient digital literacy and a lack of affordable internet services are limiting opportunities for the nation’s young people.

“The National Youth Commission’s research points to case study after case study that demonstrates the real-life impacts that not being online can have,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin.

“Without access to the internet and the digital literacy skills to navigate online, young people are simply unable to engage with government services to get the help they need.”

Ms Corbin said that the COVID-19 pandemic had shone a light on the digital divide.

 The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) thanks the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) for investigating systemic issues affecting small businesses’ communications services.

“A reliable phone and internet service is fundamental for most modern small businesses,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin.

“Unfortunately, in the past few years we’ve seen the share of TIO complaints from small businesses continually increase. The TIO’s report helps to identify some of the complex issues that small businesses face when there is a fault with their phone or internet service.”

New complaints data released today suggests that telcos need a customer service shake-up as consumers continue to deal with no or delayed action from telecommunications providers, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

Nearly a third (31 per cent) of complaints escalated to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) by between January and March 2020 related to issues with no or delayed action from telecommunications providers. An additional 11 per cent of complaints had a resolution agreed to by the telco and consumers, but not met.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has welcomed the passage of the Privacy Amendment (Public Health Contact Information) Bill 2020. This is a key step to ensuring appropriate safeguards are in place to protect the privacy of Australians using the COVIDSafe app.

ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin said that she was pleased that the legislation was amended to address a number of concerns raised by ACCAN and other consumer groups across the fields of health, technology, privacy, human rights, digital inclusion, communications and community interests.

ACCAN's Talking Telco: phone and internet help made easy. The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has today released Talking Telco, a series of guides to help Australians understand how to connect their phone and internet services and how to get help when things go wrong.

Talking Telco has been supported by the Federal Government, with the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP launching ACCAN’s new range of telco consumer advice.

As the current COVID-19 crisis has highlighted, phone and internet services now play an essential role in the everyday lives of Australians.