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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) believes that consumers need more information on broadband speeds and that this information should be clear and presented upfront. Broadband performance issues are the highest growing area of consumer complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, and ACCAN is regularly contacted by consumers about unusable broadband services.

ACCAN’s submission to the ACCC’s consultation on broadband speed claims highlights that information provided to consumers about broadband speeds is often confusing and can also be misleading as claimed speeds frequently don’t match reality.

In its submission to the Productivity Commission’s review of the Universal Service Obligation (USO), the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has proposed an expanded scope for the USO, broader affordability measures and changes to ensure greater inclusion for people with a disability. The proposed changes would ensure that all consumers have access to essential communications services.

The current USO only guarantees supply of a standard telephone voice service. ACCAN believes this scope must be broadened to also guarantee data services, essential content (education and government services) and include service guarantees for connection, fault repairs and reliability standards.

A group of community organisations is calling the future Federal Government to increase assistance to people and families on low incomes in light of new data highlighting telecommunications exclusion.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) and Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) are calling for a review of the Centrelink Telephone Allowance (CTA), pointing to the inadequacies of current entitlements in supporting low-income consumers to stay connected to phones and the internet. The CTA is a quarterly allowance designed to help consumers on income support payments to stay connected to telecommunications services.

“In our digital age telecommunications services are just as essential as water and energy,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin. “Accessible, available, and affordable communications have the potential to increase the social, economic, and community participation of all Australians. It’s vitally important that all consumers have access to communication services that are affordable so they can take advantage of government services, education and employment opportunities.”

ACCAN Election webpage logoThe Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has identified five communications consumer priorities for the 2016 Election. These are: communications affordability, future consumer protections, broadband performance monitoring, accessible ICT procurement and accessible programming on TV (more on these below). Information on these priorities can be found on the ACCAN Federal Election 2016 webpage which launched today.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) says that extra funding the free-to-air networks will keep from the 25 per cent cut to broadcast licence fees should be used to fund improved accessibility features such as better captioning and audio description. Funding these services would help to make free-to-air TV more accessible to consumers living with a disability. The 25 per cent reduction in licence fees announced overnight in the Federal Budget follows a 50 per cent decrease to the fees in 2013.

“The cuts to the broadcast licence fees are good news for the free-to-air networks,” said ACCAN Disability Policy Advisor, Wayne Hawkins. “This funding could be used to improve captioning on free-to-air TV for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing and to put in place technology that would allow the networks to introduce audio description for people who are blind or vision impaired.”

Currently free-to-air channels do not caption any additional programming on their multi channels other than repeated programs from their primary channel. Primary channels must caption all programming between 6am and midnight as well as all news and current affairs programs. There are no requirements for audio description to be included on free-to-air television and currently none of the free-to-air networks provide this service.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has launched a guide for consumers who will receive internet services over nbn’s Sky Muster satellite. The guide will be a useful tool for consumers in these areas to help them get connected to broadband services. Sky Muster services were officially launched today.

ACCAN welcomes the launch of Sky Muster services as they will deliver improved broadband services to premises across Australia, primarily in regional and remote areas including the islands that make up Australia. Consumers in these areas have experienced poor to no broadband services, with many facing difficult situations created by the lack of adequate services and exorbitant costs.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has launched a research report that found some consumers are losing around 23 per cent of their data to a megabyte rounding rip off. Megabyte rounding happens when a single ‘data session’ is rounded up to the nearest megabyte. A data session can be thought of as each time your smartphone talks to the internet, whether this is to watch a video, update your Facebook or receive an email. As some data sessions are very small, using only a few kilobytes, some consumers are on plans that are using up their data more rapidly. ACCAN is advising consumers to avoid these poor value plans.

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.

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