Hot Issues

Welcome to the latest current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

Sign up for ACCAN's weekly newsletter to have these news items sent to your email address each week.

[ List view  |  Detailed view ]

Grants Program Banner: Woman researching at a University

Exploring the handling of complaints against digital platforms, examining the performance of telco customer service chatbots, and assessing the surveillance risks of Family Plans for victims of domestic and family violence will be the focus of some of the important projects receiving funding through the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN)’s 2021 Grants program.

The ACCAN Grants Program funds projects which undertake research on telecommunications issues, represent consumers or create educational tools which empower consumers to derive the greatest benefit from telecommunications products and services.

Write comment (0 Comments)

Image description: three people sit on a lounge, looking at a laptop computer

ACCAN wants to hear about your experience with your ADSL internet service.

ADSL stands for ‘asymmetric digital subscriber line’. ADSL is a broadband internet connection delivered through the same copper wiring that your home phone may use. The ACCC are soon to begin an inquiry into whether Telstra should continue to provide access to wholesale ADSL services on request. The outcome of the ACCC inquiry could impact price and retail choice of ADSL services for regional, rural and remote consumers.

Write comment (2 Comments)

ACCAN has announced the date for its 2021 National Conference. ACCANect 2021 #DigitalDownload will be held Online, 8th September 2021. Mark your diaries now for Australia's premiere telecommunications conference.

ACCAN National Conference 2021 - Save the date: 8 Sept 21

Network and meet new people

We expect over 200 attendees including industry leaders, international delegates, consumer groups, government and regulators as well as mainstream media. The ACCANect 2021 digital event platform offers all delegates live access to Speakers sessions as well as interactive networking opportunities with other delegates, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors.

Write comment (0 Comments)

Media Reform Green Paper Banner: May 2021Over the last ten years, faster internet speeds have dramatically impacted the way that Australians consume media. Many Australians have switched from free-to-air television (FTA) to subscription video on demand services. These include streaming services like Netflix, Stan, and Kayo and broadcast video on demand (FTA catch-up services, or BVOD). According to the ACMA, 77% of Australian households now have at least one SVOD service, compared to 61% in 20171.

With viewers switching from free-to-air to online content, there have been many questions raised about how the traditional media industry can sustain itself in a world where advertising dollars follow audiences; with less people tuning in to traditional media, these outlets are less attractive to advertisers. Regional newspapers and television channels are also closing because of loss of advertising revenue. To help keep Australia’s media sector alive, the Government needs to find a way to modernise television regulation.

With the expansion in dependency on data services and roll-out of 5G Mobile, the government is also looking at how they manage the limited spectrum used for telecommunications and broadcasting.

To encourage input and debate from interested parties about how the media laws should be changed, the Government released a Green Paper in November 2020 with proposals for new ways to fund Australian media and how it operates.

Write comment (0 Comments)

What media reforms are proposed in the Green Paper?

Spectrum reform

The key reform proposal relates to technical changes in the way broadcasting content might be delivered. Australian broadcast television is delivered using ‘spectrum’, and there is only a finite amount of spectrum available. Currently, all of the available spectrum is being used for free-to-air television broadcasting.

However, new digital broadcasting technology means less spectrum can now be used to deliver the same broadcasting services. The Government would like television broadcasters to work together to use less spectrum because:

  • If enough broadcasters agree to broadcast on less spectrum, there will be more free spectrum available to be used for other purposes. One of these potential purposes is to reallocate that spectrum to improve telecommunications networks in currently underserviced areas.

  • Because the amount of spectrum available is finite, it is a valuable asset. The Government could auction off this spectrum for a profit, which it says could then be re-invested. A fund could be established to support more regional news and more Australian drama, documentary and children’s content.

  • For example, the profit could be invested in more local news services in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia, and/or local television and film content production. The Green Paper doesn’t specify how much of the profit would be invested in local and regional news, or Australian content production.

Write comment (0 Comments)

Grandson helping grandmother find ways to stay connectedStruggling with the cost of your internet or mobile service? ACCAN has put together a list of telco offers for targeted groups to help stay connected.

As this list only shows offers for targeted groups, there may be alternative products and services out there for general consumers that meet your needs, so it’s also worth comparing plans. To do so, head to an online comparison site, such as WhistleOut or Finder. ACCAN has also prepared a money saving guide with tips to reduce your telco bill.

If you are unable to meet your bills and are in financial hardship, check out ACCAN’s hardship portal for more information on what you can do.

Write comment (2 Comments)

With much of Australia’s east coast currently impacted by wild weather, many Australians have found themselves evacuated or having lost telecommunications services due to the impact of this strong weather.

Which mobile phone and nbn sites have been impacted?

Optus

Visit Optus’ website to get the latest updates for customers in flood-impacted areas

Telstra

Visit Telstra’s website to get the latest updates for customers in flood-impacted areas

Write comment (0 Comments)

Consumers often experience long wait times and poor customer service when trying to resolve issues with their telcos, but how much time does this take, and at what cost?


To find out, ACCAN commissioned a survey to ask 2994 consumers about their experiences when they contact their telco. Based on the results, we have worked out the cost to consumers in time lost resolving their telco issue, instead of doing something else.

Write comment (0 Comments)

The No Australian Left Offline - National Webinar was held 9 December and provided a report back on the key issues from the 6 State and Territory based virtual roundtables that have taken place during 2020.

These roundtables have provided a unique opportunity for those involved to share and discuss some of the barriers that are impacting communities when it comes to getting connected and using the internet.

ACCAN and nbn Co. plan to continue this collaborative approach into 2021, working towards more affordable, reliable broadband services for all Australians.

Write comment (0 Comments)

ACCAN’s Survey reveals telecommunications services are essential to small businesses but they are being let down by performance and customer service.

Man at desk checking his mobile phone

ACCAN surveyed 183 small and medium sized businesses between September – October to gain an understanding of SME’s experiences with their telecommunications providers during the pandemic.

Issues of speed, reliability, poor customer service and high costs were predominant. Of all the issues, speed and reliability was mentioned the most, with 39% of SMEs who provided feedback citing poor service performance, slow internet speeds, dropouts, outages, congestion and unacceptable latency.

Write comment (0 Comments)

At ACCAN, issues relating to accessibility have always been at the forefront of our policy and consumer education efforts. After celebrating our 10th birthday and reflecting upon the positive changes that we had successfully advocated for, we started contemplating what accessibility improvements ACCAN would like to see in the communications sector in 2020 and beyond. We considered the existing communications issues affecting people with disability and wondered what issues may arise in the future.

From this, ACCAN started developing an Ideal Accessible Communications Roadmap in consultation with the disability sector. Towards the end of 2019 and the start of 2020, we sought feedback from a range of organisations supporting people with disability. We asked about the top three communications issues that were currently affecting people with disability, the top three communications issues that contributors thought would affect people with disability in the future, and suggestions for possible solutions to address these existing and anticipated communications issues. Through email conversations, phone calls and group brainstorming sessions, we received responses from 35 organisations, including Disabled Peoples Organisations, advocacy groups and disability service providers, as well as nine individuals with disability who offered their own personal insights of their lived experience.

Write comment (0 Comments)

As the peak body for rural and remote health in Australia, the National Rural Health Alliance has been a vocal supporter of telehealth and the many benefits that it can bring, especially for those outside of metropolitan areas.


In the wake of COVID-19, we spoke to Dr Gabrielle O’Kane, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance to hear about how people in regional, rural and remote Australia were adapting to telehealth and what the future may hold for this technology-driven approach to healthcare.

Write comment (0 Comments)