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ACCAN does not believe that the current framework governing the delivery of broadband services is in the interest of consumers. Too often consumers have no transparency or assurance over their service, get passed between retailer and wholesaler and could potentially be left without access to any network. ACCAN strongly supports the Statutory Infrastructure Provider legislation. We encourage the introduction of the legislation as quickly as possible so the powers within the legislation can be used to protect consumers and their services.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) is required by section 133A of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Services Standards) Act 1999 to undergo an independent review. The review is being conducted by private consultancy Cameron.Ralph.Khoury and is to be completed by 17 August 2017. ACCAN submitted to the review after consulting with its members about their experiences with, and opinions of the TIO.

ACCAN has responded to the ACCC’s draft decision not to regulate mobile roaming across the three mobile networks (Telstra, Optus and Vodafone).

ACCAN supports the ACCC’s approach. The majority of our members in regional, rural and remote areas do not consider regulating roaming will stimulate more coverage and improved services, but at the same time they would welcome greater competition and choice of provider. Our submission identifies other ways the ACCC could support more competition.

The ACCC, after consultation and consideration, made a draft decision to reject the nbn’s proposed variation to the Special Access Undertaking. This was due to consideration that a number of the proposed changes are not in the interest of consumers. Additionally, the ACCC asked further questions in relation to nbn charges over the Multi Technology Mix.

The Australian Senate Community Affairs Committee has conducted an inquiry into the outcomes of the National Disability Strategy.

ACCAN was pleased to be able to make a submission to the inquiry highlighting the key areas in which consumers with disability are struggling to get and stay connected to communications services:

Advertised broadband speeds can be confusing. Claims such as ‘up to’ or ‘ultrafast’ do not explain what the typical speed will be for consumers. It also makes it difficult to compare providers and pick a plan that matches need. The ACCC, through new guidelines, is promoting clearer information on speed claims and ensuring that claims are not misleading consumers.

ACCAN’s submission to the Federal Joint Parliamentary Committee on the NBN highlights a number of solutions to the problems facing consumers.

Telecommunication services have always been essential for public health and safety, but today they are a necessity for participation in civic society and transacting with government, for business operations, productivity and growth. ACCAN’s Pre-Budget Submission 2017-18 discusses market gaps and gives recommendations on telecommunications initiatives that will benefit consumers including:

In December 2016 the Department of Communications and Arts consulted on three legislative reforms;
• to clarify the rules around broadband networks,
• to ensure everyone has access to a broadband network through the Statutory Infrastructure Provider, and
• to establish funding of regional broadband services.

ACCAN has recently made a submission to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s ICT Procurement Taskforce consultation. The Taskforce is investigating how the Government’s procurement of information and communications technologies can be improved. ACCAN made two recommendations to the Taskforce to ensure that all government information, services and employment opportunities are accessible to people with disability. 

The Attorney-General’s Department recently invited submissions on whether data retained under the Data Retention Scheme should be made available to parties to civil proceedings (for example family law cases and copyright infringement cases).

ACCAN’s submission includes a number of reasons why this information should not be made available in civil cases, including that:

The Productivity Commission released in December 2016 its draft inquiry report on the obligation (universal service obligation) that ensures all Australians can access telephone services. While the draft report supports our view that the obligation is outdated and that consumers should have access to broadband services, there are a number of elements which ACCAN raised as concerning in our submission.