Woman wearing PPE talking on phone at train stationThe challenges of 2020 have impacted consumers’ use of communications services profoundly. COVID-19 lockdowns have accelerated reliance on broadband services, as consumers switched online for work, education, delivery of health and other professional services, and staying in touch. The changes will be enduring for the foreseeable future, and longer term.

This context has exacerbated pre-existing digital disadvantage due to affordability barriers, lack of digital skills and confidence, lack of suitable products and services. It has highlighted the poor customer service provided by many telcos causing considerable customer detriment, as well as weaknesses in telco financial hardship responses.

ACCAN’s focus will be on network and industry performance to ensure resilient communications services in times of peak demand and emergencies. We will advocate for affordable access to services and devices to minimise the disruption of switching to remote learning, and for greater availability and choice of services suited to the needs of small businesses. We will engage with government and industry to reduce barriers for older people using the internet, and for investment in the support all consumers and small businesses need to engage and diversify online. We will continue our advocacy for significant improvements in telco customer service. We will support the development of a First Nations Digital Inclusion Strategy to overcome the entrenched disadvantage experienced in poorly served remote communities, left even more isolated during COVID lockdowns.