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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) 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.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) welcomes the three-year construction plan released by nbn but is concerned that some consumers will still be waiting up to five years for adequate broadband services. Information released about the National Broadband Network (NBN) has been limited in the last few years. This has left most consumers in the dark about when the NBN might reach them. We regularly hear frustration from our members and consumers over the lack of information and transparency of the NBN rollout. This announcement provides more information for a large number of areas and is due to be updated quarterly, meaning consumers will be more informed.

"nbn previously estimated that 20 per cent of premises in Australia were not able to access adequate services. Through this plan, and over the next three years, a large portion of these consumers will be connected to the National Broadband Network," said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin. "However, ACCAN is very concerned for consumers who have not made the list and are currently unable to get adequate broadband services. Some consumers are experiencing this if there are no ADSL ports available or their premises are too far from exchanges. Addressing areas that are currently poorly served is one of our policy priorities that we announced earlier this week.

In a speech at the CommsDay Melbourne Congress 2015, ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin, spoke about the organisation's Policy Priorities for 2015-16. The priorities cover a range of consumer issues and relate to ACCAN's three core focus areas - affordable, available and accessible communications products and services for all Australians. The complete Policy Priorities are available on ACCAN's website.

As an organisation, ACCAN represents all residential consumers and small businesses, including not-for-profit organisations. Each policy priority aims to address a segment of the market that is not working for a group/s within Australia.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) is pleased to see the downward trend of complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) continue with a drop of 10.5 per cent shown in the 2014-15 Annual Report. However, the number of new complaints recorded (124,417) is still a significant number with some key problem areas emerging in the Report that need to be improved.

One of the positive trends seen in the past year is the decrease in mobile coverage complaints which fell by 49.2 per cent. Mobile coverage issues affect many consumers, particularly those in rural and remote areas. The drop in complaints in this area is positive especially as more consumers move toward being mobile-only. Recent ACMA research found that 29 per cent of Australians had only a mobile phone and no fixed line telephone at home.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) welcomes the ACMA's action to direct six providers to comply with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code. The six telcos listed by the ACMA have failed to lodge compliance documents with Communications Compliance (CommCom) by 1 April, 2015. They also failed to lodge this documentation with CommCom in 2014.

In ACCAN's view the TCP Code compliance regime is a light touch approach. Under the Code each telco that provides services to consumers must lodge two documents with CommCom annually by 1 April. These documents are: a Customer Information Compliance Statement setting out where customers can access information that is required to be made public and a Compliance Attestation that is endorsed by the CEO or a senior manager confirming that it complies with the Code and has a Compliance Plan that meets Australian Standards.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) congratulates nbn and Arianespace on the successful launch of the Sky Muster satellite. Sky Muster is the first of two satellites that nbn is launching as part of its plan to provide broadband services to all premises in Australia. The second satellite is expected to launch mid-2016.

Satellites will provide broadband services to three per cent of premises in Australia, primarily in regional and remote areas including the islands that make up Australia. Consumers in these areas currently have poor to no broadband, with many facing difficult situations created by the lack of adequate services and exorbitant costs.

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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.