Our focus

ACCAN’s purpose is to work for “communications services that are trusted, inclusive, accessible and available for all.” Our Strategic Plan can be viewed at accan.org.au/about-us/reporting/strategic-plan

In 2021-22 ACCAN will be focused on the following priority areas, informed by the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns 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 telecommunications 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.

Technician repairing a mobile base station tower

Stronger foundations are necessary to support the delivery of essential communications services. 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.

Man with mobility cane talks on phone

Many Australians with disability continue to be excluded from our increasingly digital society, and there are many barriers to access that must be overcome. National Relay Services (NRS) 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 free to air 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. Access to online government services also remains difficult for some people with disability.

Young indigenous people happily using their mobile phones

Poor customer service, irresponsible selling practices, unresponsive or uncontactable telcos, unfair treatment of vulnerable consumers, and information asymmetry in the telecommunications market is causing considerable harm to communications consumers. While COVID-19 lockdowns exacerbate poor customer service and consumer detriment, this is an ongoing and pervasive issue. Access to suitable financial hardship arrangements and support for consumers experiencing vulnerability remains problematic, and consumers still have difficulties getting their authorised advocates recognised by the industry.

Australian Family

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 tight budgets and competing financial demands. 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.

Farmer utilising regional telecommunications infrastructure

The completion of the NBN build means a broadband infrastructure upgrade for most Australians, but there remain many that are underserved. Some are still waiting for NBN to become available and others for upgrades, while in many remote Indigenous communities last mile infrastructure is badly needed. There is strong demand for increased mobile network coverage in regional, rural and remote areas, as well as on 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 future plan for service transition if ADSL is withdrawn. 5G networks are rolling out but availability is limited, and consumers are concerned about the impact the withdrawal of 3G may have on access to services. Consumers are 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

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 scam activity, ransomware attacks and other cyber security breaches, 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 are unsure of their rights on digital platforms and streaming services.

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.