Main content

Alert message

 

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. 

Sign up for ACCAN's weekly newsletter to have these news items sent to your email address each week.

[ List view  |  Detailed view ]

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.

After a small but respectable drop in mobile bill shock due to usage notifications shown in the ACMA's Spend Management Tools and Alerts Survey 2015, further gains need to be found through the introduction of real time notifications. Currently these warnings can be up to 48 hours out of date by the time consumers receive them. With high excess usage charges, you can rack up a significant debt without even realising it.

Currently Telstra is the only telco to announce real time usage notifications. The ACMA research showed that delays in receiving information are "the major cause for dissatisfaction with the alert system" and this is where consumers can get caught out. ACCAN is calling on all telcos to implement real time usage alerts so consumers know when they are approaching their limit and as soon as they have reached a limit. This would allow them to more easily manage their usage and avoid expensive excess charges.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) welcomes the appointment of Senator Mitch Fifield to the role of Communications Minister. "As the peak organisation representing consumers and small business on telecommunications, we're looking forward to engaging with Minister Fifield on important issues that affect users," said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin.

"We are pleased that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for Australia to embrace the future and use digital disruption to our advantage. As a nation of early technology adopters, Australian consumers are keener than ever to join in and benefit from innovations that deliver better, more affordable and accessible communications choices."

For example, the establishment of the Digital Transformation Office is a great opportunity to be a world leader and ensure Government services are even more accessible as they move online. We are looking forward to helping ensure this initiative works to overcome any barriers for those unable to use or access the internet.

Subcategories

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.