Our focus

ACCAN’s purpose, as outlined in our Strategic Plan, is to work for “communications services that are trusted, inclusive, accessible and available for all.”

In 2022-23 ACCAN will focus on the following priority areas, informed by the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and natural disasters on consumers’ use of communications services and the need for accessible and easy-to-understand consumer education and information about communications issues. At the same time, we will be responsive to emerging issues, and engage with government and industry consultations in areas of significance for communications consumers, including the converging areas of media, broadcasting and digital platforms.

Our policy priorities are developed in close consultation with ACCAN members and are informed by our knowledge and analysis of the communications market.

Australian Family

Everyone in Australia should have access to affordable phone and internet goods and services that meet their needs. However, the affordability of communications services and devices remains a problem for people on low incomes and contributes to financial hardship and debt issues. Mobile and home broadband services have become increasingly expensive and are out of reach for many households facing cost of living pressures. Furthermore, there is a lack of information and promotion of more affordable devices and services, and at the same time a confusing array of complex offers which results in consumers entering contracts for products not suited to their needs.

Young indigenous people happily using their mobile phones

Everyone deserves to be treated fairly, including when interacting with different markets. Despite this, poor customer service, irresponsible selling practices, unresponsive or uncontactable telcos, unfair treatment of vulnerable consumers, and information asymmetry persists in the telecommunications market, continuing to cause harm to communications consumers. While COVID-19 lockdowns and natural disasters have contributed to poor customer service and consumer detriment in the past few years, these are ongoing and pervasive issues. Access to suitable financial hardship arrangements, supports and complaints mechanisms for consumers experiencing vulnerability remains problematic, and consumers still have difficulties getting their authorised advocates recognised by the industry.

Farmer utilising regional telecommunications infrastructure

No matter where we live in Australia, communications services should be available to keep us connected. While the completion of the NBN build means a broadband infrastructure upgrade for most Australians, there remain many that are underserved. Some are still waiting for NBN to become available, others are awaiting upgrades, and in many remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities last mile infrastructure is badly needed. Mobile network coverage issues persist in regional, rural and remote areas, as well as in transport corridors and high-risk emergency areas. Technology used to deliver fixed voice services in remote and rural areas is aging and unreliable, and many premises are still connected to ADSL outside NBN’s fixed footprint with no adequate plan for service transition if ADSL is withdrawn. Although 5G networks are rolling out, consumers are concerned about the impact the withdrawal of 3G may have on access to their services. Consumers are also concerned about the impact that spectrum changes will have on their use of technology, including telecommunications services and television delivery platforms.

Older Australian concerned about using services online

Everyone has the right to feel safe and confident when using phone and internet goods and services. Consumers want to engage online, but many have deep concerns about the security of their personal information, manipulative practices, and fraud. Others feel disempowered by the lack of transparency surrounding how their personal information is gathered, stored and shared by third parties. Small businesses are concerned about cyber security breaches, scam activity and ransomware attacks, and the impact these may have on their lives and livelihoods. Many consumers, young and old, lack the opportunity and confidence to use the internet and are challenged by technology that could improve their lives. Consumers are concerned about the rising spread of misinformation online and the security and safety of digital platforms, and there is uncertainty about consumers’ rights on digital platforms and streaming services.

Man with mobility cane talks on phone

Everyone in Australia should have access to phone and internet goods and services that meet their needs. This must include people with disability, many of whom continue to be excluded from our increasingly digital society and face barriers to accessing communications goods and services. National Relay Service (NRS) offerings have limited availability and real-time access to emergency services for consumers who are Deaf, Deafblind or have hearing or speech impairment is still not possible. Australian commercial and subscription television is inaccessible for people who are blind or have vision impairment, and a significant amount of television content is inaccessible for people who rely on captioning. Interacting with telco providers, in person, on the phone or online, can be difficult for people with disability, as can accessing online government services.

Technician repairing a mobile base station tower

Telecommunications is an essential service in today’s day and age. Our communities and small businesses are more reliant on telecommunications than ever before, and yet arrangements to support increased reliability have not changed substantially in 20 years. This is despite COVID-19 lockdowns accelerating our reliance on broadband services, with consumers needing to be online for work, education, and to provide and receive health and other government services, and natural disasters across Australia highlighting the need for more reliable and resilient forms of connectivity.

Person studying dataEach year ACCAN encounters telecommunications issues of emerging importance. 

We work closely with our individual and organisational members, government, regulators and the telecommunications industry to understand and highlight these issues to ensure the needs of Australian consumers are strongly represented.