The summary below outlines ACCAN's activities from 1 March – 31 May 2017.

The work of the ACCAN policy team has resulted in some considerable achievements on behalf of telecommunications consumers in the last three months, demonstrated in government, regulator and industry adoption of our policy positions. These include incorporation of a reference to Australian Standards in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, which allows for cross referencing to the new standard on accessible ICT public procurement; funding for the ACCC Broadband Performance Monitoring Program; release of construction information by address by nbn co; and a draft Mobile Roaming Decision by the ACCC that reflects the issues raised in our submission. Other policy adoptions by Communications Alliance will enhance consumer privacy protections. Our impact on better protections against fraudulent mobile number porting and facilitating access to pre-paid mobile phones for victims of family violence will support a safer telecommunications environment for consumers.

We have continued to advance our policy priority of better communications for poorly served areas in the last quarter through our participation in the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC). This has included regular meetings and support for the key policy outcomes sought by the group. We submitted to seven government, industry and parliamentary consultations; we met with industry, government, regulators and political stakeholders represent our policy priorities; and we continued our close consultation with our members and consumer groups to ensure their interests are accurately represented.

Planning for the 2017 Grants Round is now well under way with the consultation list agreed with DoCA, and consultations with stakeholders close to complete on the list of priority topics. Launch events for the final report from ‘Finding Peace of Mind’ (University of Sydney) and ‘Rank the Telco’ (FCRC) were held on 9 May and 27 April 2017, respectively. A multi stakeholder workshop on regulatory and consumer protection mechanisms for security in IoT/Smarthome devices was held on 20 April at the University of NSW. Representatives from industry in the security, start-up and telecommunications sectors were complemented by domestic violence workers, consumer advocates, legal experts and regulators from across the sector for a highly engaging format with demonstrations of security issues in a range of devices and contexts. The Association of Hazaras held additional educational workshops. All grants scheme projects for this round are now acquitted in full, however reports from the projects will be successively released throughout the year for the greatest impact.

The mystery shopping (disability consumers) project delivered its full report and briefings with telecommunications providers commenced in April. A new research project was completed with Ipsos to evaluate the extent of problems being encountered by third party billing and mobile premium services.

From 1 March – 30 May, 2017, ACCAN published ten news stories covering a range of issues including appearances by ACCAN and RRRCC members at the Productivity Commission’s USO inquiry. This article was heavily promoted on social media to get the message out to these consumers. In April, ACCAN published a blog with tips for consumers on what to do if their mobile number has been fraudulently ported to another mobile provider. This is a type of scam that ACCAN has been hearing increasing reports about. The blog also has tips for consumers to better protect themselves from these scams. ACCAN also updated its hardship portal.

ACCAN participated in a range of meetings reflecting much of the rural and regional focus took place this quarter. ACCAN participated in a total of 13 different representative body meetings including several meetings of the CA Working Committee reviewing the mobile Premium Service Code of Practice. There were 15 meetings with government and regulatory bodies and 25 industry liaison and engagement meetings. The 2017 ACCAN National Conference date has been set and will continue with the name ‘ACCANect’. This year’s theme will be ‘Your place in the connected world’. The registration website has been set up and registrations are now available.

ACCAN CEO participated in the Consumers International G20 meeting in Berlin in March, timed with the Google Consumer Protection Policy Summit. Google supported 2 ACCAN staff to travel to Berlin for the meeting. The ACCAN CEO also attended the international standards organisation meeting of its key consumer body COPOLCO in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

ACCAN staff participated in 26 different outreach, consumer engagement events and member consultation discussions. There were another 12 other events ACCAN participated in during the period. The ACCAN policy team has continued to work closely with members and consumer groups to ensure our policy work is representative.

Between 1 March – 31 May, 2017, ACCAN generated 244 media mentions across national print, online, TV and radio. This is an average of 81 items per month. The majority of ACCAN’s coverage (64 per cent) was in online coverage. Print articles made up 28 per cent of the coverage, while radio accounted for six per cent and TV for one per cent. Issues of interest covered a variety of topics including the Rural, Regional & Remote Communications Coalition visit to Canberra, NBN connection issues and broadband performance monitoring.

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