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Media Releases

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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The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has released the 2nd Edition of its Community Consultation Guide in time for Round 2 of the Federal Government's Mobile Black Spot Programme (MBSP).

Mobile coverage is a key issue for consumers, particularly those who live in regional, rural, and remote areas. Improving mobile coverage is also one of ACCAN's key work priorities.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) is holding its Meet the People Forum at Parliament House in Canberra today to highlight important telecommunications consumer priorities for 2016 to Federal Parliamentarians. The Forum will bring the voice of consumers to Canberra, to talk about their experiences with fixed line connection, fault repair and reliability; expectations of broadband performance that are mismatched with actual experience; and the challenge of affordability as a barrier to getting and staying connected.

ACCAN is proposing three key policy initiatives to help address these consumer priorities: a reformed Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) and service reliability benchmarks; independent broadband performance monitoring to inform the market and guide consumer choice; and a review of the current Centrelink Telephone Allowance to match the needs of low income consumers today. These issues and others make up ACCAN's 2015-16 Policy Priorities.

Research from the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has found that broadband speeds and performance levels are leaving consumers disappointed with their services. The lack of reliable information on broadband quality for consumers to use when choosing a plan means that it is difficult to make the right choices.

ACCAN's survey found that quality is the third most important factor for consumers in choosing a broadband service, behind price and monthly data allowance. However, consumers appear to be confused by the market. Respondents were split in their opinion on whether providers differ in the level of quality they offer, with 58 per cent of participants agreeing with the statement "You get the same speeds at home as advertised in your plan."

 The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) welcomes Macquarie Telecom's initiative to publish its customer Net Promoter Scores (NPS) online. Prospective customers will be able to access this before signing up with the company. NPS is a measure of the proportion of customers who say they would recommend a business to others.

"We welcome this move by Macquarie Telecom and encourage the industry to follow suit and publish Net Promoter Scores in real time," said ACCAN Deputy CEO, Narelle Clark. "Giving current and prospective customers access to this sets a new benchmark for transparency in the industry. If presented in a simple, easy to use way, it will help consumers make more informed choices when deciding which provider to use.

New research from the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) found that telecommunications packages for small businesses are not adequately aligning to small business needs in today's digital economy. The research report, Informing Small Business, consists of a study examining the current small business market offerings and a survey of 200 small businesses to assess their behaviour and experiences. The report was funded by ACCAN and authored by Market Clarity.

The recent massive shift toward a more mobile workforce has seen many small business operators blend their home and work lives together. They work on the go and would benefit from being able to access their broadband connections from locations other than their office, but many of the offerings are inflexible for those who have embraced the digital economy. Small businesses need a reliable internet connection to do business and therefore it's imperative that service faults be quickly resolved. However, the research found that for the most part service guarantees are not offered to small businesses. Around half of the small businesses surveyed said their phone and internet plans offered no service performance guarantees.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) is putting industry on notice that it will be closely watching the impact of revisions made to the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code. The Code registered with the ACMA replaces the existing Code from today.

"The TCP Code provides significant consumer protections. ACCAN will be keeping a close eye on how the industry performs under the revised Code," said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin. "We want to see the debate shift from just being about deregulation to the more nuanced 'better regulation.' If we don't then consumers will begin to suffer due to reductions in community safeguards.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) says that consumers should be aware of the high fees charged for calling directory assistance numbers. Today Telstra has introduced a $0.50 charge for directory assistance calls from landlines and other telcos charge for these calls often outside of the included plan value. Telstra customers on the Pensioner Discount are exempt from the $0.50 charge for directory assistance calls. See ACCAN's tip sheet for directory assistance call charges from a range of landline and mobile providers.

Wherever possible, consumers should use free, online methods of accessing this information. Directory information can be accessed online from the White Pages website or smartphone app or even by doing a simple Google search for the company or service required. However, ACCAN is concerned that call charges to directory assistance numbers may unfairly impact on consumers who don't have internet access or who aren't comfortable using the internet.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) congratulates the telcos involved in the TIO and Communications Alliance quarterly Complaints in Context report for their efforts in reducing the number of complaints for the April-June 2015 quarter. The latest report shows that Vodafone, Telstra, Optus, amaysim and Pivotel had 6.5 TIO complaints per 10,000 services in operation (SIO) for the quarter, a decrease of 9.7 per cent on the previous quarter, and a 14.5 per cent drop when compared to April-June 2014.

Three out of the five telcos recorded lower complaints when compared to the previous quarter. This is a great result and is good for consumers. It's also positive to see smaller provider, Pivotel joining the Complaints in Context reporting.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has formed an alliance of organisations representing the interests of Australians who are Deaf, hearing impaired and those who rely on captions for information, to bring attention to the growing issue of inaccessibility of online audio/visual content being posted to websites. Specifically, there are concerns around the amount of video content that is being auto-captioned on YouTube as the vast majority of these videos are not being reviewed for accuracy or readability.

An ad hoc survey of Australian Government websites found a range of problems with video captions, including videos with no captions, video captions with minor misspellings and videos with completely incomprehensible captions. Go to ACCAN's Facebook page to view a photo album containing examples of incomprehensible captioning. The websites of many Australian politicians, political parties and Government agencies feature these inaccessible videos.

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

As the issues develop over the course of the election, ACCAN media releases will keep you up to date.