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The ACCC is currently running an inquiry into the infrastructure used in the supply of mobile telecommunications and other radiocommunications services in regional areas. The inquiry is also exploring the feasibility of providing mobile roaming during natural disasters or other emergencies.

ACCAN has responded to an ACCC consultation on NBN’s proposed variation to its Special Access Undertaking (SAU), where the ACCC must decide whether to accept or reject the proposed variation. The SAU sets out the rules by which NBN provides wholesale access to retailers. The details in the SAU can determine the price and quality of voice and broadband services delivered over the NBN until 2040. The consultation comes after more than a year of stakeholder discussions and workshops hosted by the ACCC which ACCAN has engaged with.

ACCAN recently submitted our views on the 2022 review of the Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation (the Code). The Code is administered by Digital Industries Group Inc. (DIGI). The Code was launched in February 2021 and currently has eight signatories: Apple, Adobe, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Redbubble, TikTok and Twitter. The signatories commit to a range of obligations to reduce harms from misinformation and disinformation on their services. The Code also prescribes an independent complaints sub-committee that can help the public resolve disputes with signatories that fail to meet their obligations to combat mis- and disinformation.

The telco regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), has recently consulted on proposals to amend the Telecommunications (Listed Infringement Notice Provisions) Declaration 2022 (the IN Declaration). The IN Declaration allows the ACMA to issue infringement notices (fines) when telcos don’t follow certain rules.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) recently submitted to the Department of Home Affairs’ National Security Action Plan Discussion Paper. As the leading voice for communications consumers in Australia, ACCAN continues to monitor a range of data rights and privacy issues. ACCAN responded to questions 14 and 15 in the discussion paper which inquired about how to foster consumer trust in data security.

Question 14 in the discussion paper asked whether there is sufficient public information about data security. ACCAN noted that government data security information for consumers is spread across several websites and recommended the Federal Government further invest in quality, accessible education resources to be housed in a single, well-publicised location.

Telstra and TPG Telecom (TPGT) have asked for ACCC authorisation to share their separately owned spectrum for the delivery of mobile services in a regional coverage zone. As part of the arrangement, Telstra and TPGT will also consolidate their mobile towers and TPGT will gain access to some of Telstra’s coverage.

Communications Alliance, the peak body for the telco industry, has sought feedback on a new draft Number Management – Use of Numbers by Customers Code. This draft Code replaces two former Industry Codes, that of C566:2005 Rights of Use of Numbers Code and C554:2004 Rights of Use of Premium Rate Service Numbers Code.

Local number portability allows consumers to transfer – or ‘port’ – their local landline telephone number to a new service with a different telco provider. 

The Local Number Portability Code (the Code) outlines the procedures that telcos must follow in relation to local number porting. It is important that the Code is thorough and fair so that consumers do not lose their local number in the process, or face lengthy delays when switching telco providers.

ACCAN recently submitted to The Treasury’s Statutory Review of the Consumer Data Right (CDR) Issues paper. The review, conducted by Elizabeth Kelly PSM, considers whether the existing statutory framework of the CDR is fit-for-purpose. As the peak body that represents all consumers on communications issues, ACCAN has engaged with the development of the CDR, especially as it relates to the telecommunications sector.

The ACMA has sought comment on Draft Captioning Reduction orders numbers 00132-00137 inclusive.  Whilst ACCAN is mindful of the goal of reaching 100 percent of captioning on subscription television services by 2032 as defined in the Broadcast Services Act, as the mentioned services are specifically racing services, a lot of information is already printed on screen and ACCAN does not see significant detriment to consumers by these orders being granted.

ACCAN has recently submitted to the five-year independent review of the TIO in a joint submission with Consumer Action Law Centre, Financial Counselling Australia and WEstjustice. Our submission highlighted the vital role that the TIO performs when dealing with consumers’ unresolved phone and internet complaints. We identified areas where the TIO could expand and improve its activities so that it continues to meet the Australian Government’s Benchmarks for Industry-Based Customer Dispute Resolution.

Under the Telecommunications Act 1997, the ACCC is required to conduct a review into whether a Ministerial Determination should be made to specify the amount of control a carrier should have of a telecommunications company before that company is subject to the requirements under the Facilities Access Regime (the Regime). Carriers subject to the Regime must, on request, give another carrier access to infrastructure, such as transmission towers. The Regime is important in facilitating competition and the efficient use and provision of telecommunications services. Previously, only licensed carriers were subject to the Regime, however due to market developments, namely Telstra’s restructure, there is a question as to whether carriers with less equity in a passive tower company should be subject to the Regime.

It is ACCAN’s view that consumers would benefit if all infrastructure providers, not just licensed carriers, were subject to the Regime, for the following reasons: