Hot Issues

Welcome to the latest current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

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Couple sitting on lounge using a phone and laptopMany vital services and equipment use telecommunications infrastructure to work, such as telephone and voice services, internet, disability equipment (tele-typewriters), fax machines, medical alarms, security alarms, EFTPOS machines and emergency elevator phones.

These services and equipment may be affected in the switch over to the National Broadband Network (NBN).

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The ACCAN Annual General Meeting was held in Sydney on Thursday, 15 September, 2016. At the meeting the following three candidates were elected to the Board:

  • Sarah Wilson
  • Dean Barton-Smith
  • Nadia Moffatt

Congratulations to returning director, Dean, and a warm welcome to Sarah and Nadia who are joining the ACCAN Board for the first time.

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Snail sliding across a computer keyboardIf your broadband speeds are consistently lower than those advertised by your internet service provider (ISP) or is unreliable at any time during the day, you should contact your provider and clearly state that you want to make a complaint.

Explain how your internet is slow or unreliable. Evidence, such as recorded speed tests (many IPSs offer this on their website, or you can try other online speed tests such as Ookla’s Speedtest) or examples of times when you are unable or have difficulty using the service.

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Laptop with download progress bar on screenSimilar to the ACCC’s consultation on broadband speed claims, regulators in other countries are trying to ensure that ISPs deliver on their broadband speed claims.

In the UK, the regulator is considering forcing broadband and mobile operators to pay automatic compensation to customers when services fail or when they are suffering slow speeds.

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With the Federal Election campaign now over, ACCAN congratulates Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield and Senator the Hon Fiona Nash who continue in their roles as Minister for Communications and Minister for Regional Communications respectively for the Turnbull Government. The Federal Member for Greenway, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP and the Federal Member for Throsby – Stephen Jones take up the roles of Shadow Minister for Communications and Shadow Minister for Regional Communications respectively.

We are pleased that during their campaigns both the Coalition and Labor made announcements of an additional $60 million in funding for a third round of the Mobile Black Spots Programme. This is vital as mobile coverage and competition in rural areas continues to be is a key issue for many consumers.

In the lead up to the election, ACCAN called for the parties to focus on five communications consumer priorities and we asked them a series of questions based on these priorities. We covered announcements from the Coalition, Labor and the Australian Greens on NBN policy, digital literacy and accessibility. While we didn’t receive specific answers to our questions, some of these were answered by the announcements from the parties during the campaign.

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Woman using 3D printerNew website gives consumers a head start in 3D printing

The number of users connecting to each other on the internet to find, share, and create 3D printed objects has proliferated in the last few years. But what do consumers need to know before printing in 3D?

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ACCAN Conference panelThe full program for the ACCANect Conference is now available online.

Like previous years, the Conference has attracted a high calibre of speakers and panellists including: the new Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, Judi Jones, the new Disability Commissioner, Alastair McEwin, the new Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, as well as consumer representatives such as CHOICE and Consumer Affairs Victoria.

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Running ostrichIncreasingly providers are advertising and pricing broadband plans based on speed; stating exact speeds that they can provide such as up to ‘12/1Mbps’, ‘25/5Mbps’ or ‘100/40Mbps.’ They are also using terms and price tiers that imply faster speed levels such as ‘high speed internet’, ‘super boost’, ‘lightning fast’, ‘superfast’ or ‘max speed.’

ACCAN is concerned that consumers are negatively affected by the lack of clarity about what these claims mean. The ACCC has raised concerns regarding consumer information about broadband and says these speed claims and terms “might misrepresent the speeds that the retail broadband service can consistently achieve, especially during peak periods”.

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Heterosexual couple watching TVAccurate and comprehensible captions on broadcast television provide a better viewing experience for many people.

Captions are an essential service for people who are Deaf or hearing-impaired. They also assist young children and people learning English, provide additional information for people with cognitive impairments and allow many people who are in noisy environments to know what is being said on TV.

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ACCANect logo - smartphone with Wi-Fi symbolThis year our Conference, ACCANect: Equipping Consumers to Stay Connected, will focus on how consumers can navigate the often complex digital world. As part of the National Year of Digital Inclusion, the Conference will aim to empower consumers to get and stay connected to the phone and broadband services they need. The sessions and panels will look at practical tools for consumers to achieve this.

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Julie McCrossinWe’re excited to announce that the ACCANect Conference will be emceed by renowned freelance journalist and facilitator, Julie McCrossin. Julie has had a distinguished career as a broadcaster with ABC Radio National, ABC TV and Network Ten. She is well known for her warmth, intelligence and commitment to social justice issues.

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Girl holding smartphone with broken screenIf like me you’ve got Teflon-coated hands, then dropping your mobile phone and breaking your screen is a regular occurrence. To avoid expensive repair jobs you might consider taking out insurance. ACCAN’s investigator, Xavier O’Halloran, wades through the legal fine print and uses his abacus to crunch the numbers on three of the major insurance plans.

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