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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 Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition has welcomed the release of the Productivity Commission’s (PC) draft report into the Universal Service Obligation (USO) with its finding that the current arrangements are in need of reform, sooner rather than later.

Achieving a USO that is technology neutral and that provides access to both voice and data is one of the fundamental pillars that prompted the formation of this Coalition.

NSW Farmers Association President, Derek Schoen, said: “It is pleasing that the PC has recognised that the current USO agreement is out of date and that voice and broadband access should be part of the USO into the future.

A group of like-minded advocacy groups have come together to end the data drought by forming the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition to champion better communications services for consumers and small businesses living in rural, remote or regional areas.

The Coalition includes the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), the Country Women’s Association of NSW, the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association and AgForce Queensland.

“The Coalition was formed to highlight the collective concerns of families, businesses and communities in rural and regional Australia about the lack of equitable access to reliable and quality telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote Australia,” ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin said.

Report cover image of locked mobile phone displaying $10 noteA major report into telecommunications affordability today launched jointly by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) highlights concerns about low-income consumers in staying connected to telecommunications services.

The report, Connectivity Costs: Telecommunications Affordability for Low-Income Australians, which was based on a survey of over 500 Centrelink recipients and low-income Health Care Card holders, as well as a series of focus groups, found that:

  • 66 per cent of respondents rated telecommunications among the five most important factors in their household budget; but
  • 62 per cent reported difficulty paying, having to cut back or that they had stopped using one or more telecommunications services for financial reasons in the last 12 months.

In a speech at the CommsDay Melbourne Congress 2016, ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin, outlined eight major priority areas for ACCAN in 2016-17. The consumer centred priorities relate to ACCAN’s core focus area of achieving affordable, available and accessible communications products and services for all Australians.

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 or groups within Australia.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has launched its ‘Get Connected’ consumer resource which includes a mapping tool and a series of useful steps for consumers who are struggling to get an ADSL connection while they are waiting for NBN to arrive in their area. Issues accessing ADSL services have become a common complaint for consumers, particularly those who move into new areas.

The mapping tool helps consumers to understand the reasons that may be preventing them from getting an ADSL service. For example, if there are few ports available at the local exchange, if the neighbourhood is too far from an exchange or if the exchange is not ADSL enabled. The NBN will be connecting all areas and offering fast broadband connections for consumers. However, some consumers may be waiting months or years for the NBN to reach them. This mapping tool and accompanying useful steps will help them to make a decision about what services would meet their needs in the short to medium term.

ACCAN’s 2016 National Conference, ACCANect: Equipping Consumers to Stay Connected, kicks off this morning with a focus on empowering consumers to get and stay connected to the phone and broadband services they need. Over two days the event will cover a range of topics including digital inclusion, affordability and digital government.

“We’re looking forward to exploring the issues that consumers face in getting connected particularly as our reliance on broadband to access services, education and employment opportunities grows,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin. “Over the two days we’ll hear from experts about new research into digital inclusion and affordability. Sessions at the event will feature panel discussions on how we bridge the divide and get everyone connected and will examine barriers to getting connected.”

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.”

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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.