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 ]

Man talking on phone while using laptopTelecommunications outages happen from time to time. Recently a number of outages occurred with services from iiNet, Virgin Mobile and Telstra. These outages occurred on both mobile and fixed networks.

Earlier this year Telstra offered its mobile customers free data days as compensation. For the NBN/ADSL outage, Telstra has offered a $25 credit to consumers and a $50 credit to businesses who were offline for an extended period of time. This will be applied automatically to customer accounts. Depending on your circumstances, a day of free mobile data or a $25/$50 credit may not be adequate compensation. If you or your business was affected and suffered losses due to an outage, you may be entitled to seek more compensation from your telco.

Write comment (23 Comments)

People at cafe using smartphones and tabletsYou may have noticed that we’ve launched our brand new website. We’ve been working on the new website for quite some time and we’re very excited to finally have it up and running.

The new website is more user-friendly, mobile-friendly and of course, it is accessible to consumers who use assistive technologies like screen readers.

With our new website, we’re well placed to provide consumers with the latest news, information and consumer resources.

The website is now divided into two main areas: Helpful Consumer Information and ACCAN’s Work.

Write comment (0 Comments)

Have you received a text message like the one below informing you that you’ve subscribed to a subscription service and will be charged a fee for that service?

Image text: Freemsg: >Reply YES now< to get your content from SMSQuest. ($6.60 join + $6.60/msg, 3msg/wk 25c/msg sent). Help? 1800364332. sms stop to 19700800.

These types of messages don’t come from your telco and may result in charges being added to your phone bill. These charges are for third party services which means your telco is allowing another provider to sell content to you which you pay for on your phone bill. What you are buying can be phone apps, pay per view videos, games and other content. They can be one-off charges or ongoing subscriptions.

Write comment (207 Comments)

Farmer using mobile phoneHow often do you use the internet each week? Statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released in February 2016 showed that the mean number of hours spent per week on the internet for both males and females is 10 hours.

Ten hours per week doesn’t seem like much time, but when you think about all of the activities we now do online – accessing education, job opportunities, government services and more – our reliance on the internet becomes very clear.

While some of us may take broadband for granted, there is a growing group of consumers from all over the country who are struggling with poor internet services or even no services at all.

Write comment (0 Comments)

Person paying bill onlineHow do you pay your phone and internet bills? Direct debit from a bank account or credit card? Over the phone or online? How about by BPAY or in person at your provider's store or Australia Post?

The amount of billing methods available is overwhelming. Each provider has a different range of options, but there are some common ones like those mentioned above.

When choosing how to pay your bill, you should be aware that some methods attract fees. While these are only usually a few dollars or a small percentage of the total amount, over the life of a contract they can add up to a significant amount that you could be saving.

Write comment (0 Comments)

Close-up of Christmas lightsWe know that electronic devices, such as microwaves, baby monitors and lamps, can interfere with Wi-Fi, but did you know that your Christmas lights could be causing interference as well?

With families having extra downtime over the holidays or if you have family visiting you'll need a reliable internet connection to ensure everyone can get connected.

Our friends at the UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, have published some troubleshooting tips that may be helpful if you're experiencing interference from electronics or your Christmas lights over the festive season.

If these tips don't help solve your Wi-Fi issues we recommend that you contact your provider to discuss the problem with them and get a resolution.

Write comment (0 Comments)

Smartphone next to Christmas treeNo doubt many of us are looking forward to getting a new smartphone for Christmas. But before you rush out to purchase the latest device for a loved one or yourself, there are a few things you should consider.

While price is likely to be a key decider, there are other factors to look at. Here are our top tips to keep in mind before purchasing a new smartphone or signing up to a new phone contract during the festive season.

Mobile coverage

The P3 CommsDay Mobile Benchmark 2015 tested the three Australian mobile networks (Telstra, Optus and Vodafone), giving a snapshot of the mobile coverage in larger cities, smaller towns and on highways around Australia. The Benchmark is an independent test that measures the quality of phone calls, and 4G and 3G data downloads.

Write comment (0 Comments)

Man using mobile phone at airportAustralian telcos have taken action to reduce bill shock from global roaming by introducing roaming packs. But before travelling, you should consider all your options for global roaming, especially if you are on a tight budget. Check out your options for global roaming below.

Do you need to use your phone number while overseas?

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone offer their customers global roaming packs that include calls, text and data, at an extra cost. Virgin Mobile offers roaming packs that only include data. Signing up to a roaming pack can be a good option if you need to be contactable overseas on your Australian mobile number.

Write comment (0 Comments)

Seniors using laptopsDigital inclusion ensures that no one is left behind as we move towards an increasingly digital future. For Social Inclusion Week 2015, we thought we'd outline why digital inclusion is vital for all Australians.

While many of us have smartphones and access to the internet at home, there are some consumers who don't. Two issues often cited as barriers to digital inclusion are affordability and a lack of digital literacy.

Affordability divide

Research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that in 2012–13, 98 per cent of households with a household income of $120,000 or more had internet access, compared to only 57 per cent of households with a household income of less than $40,000, suggesting an 'affordability divide' when it comes to broadband.

Write comment (0 Comments)

Teenage girls using smartphonesMore and more parents are purchasing phones for their teenage children. Research from the ACMA in 2013 showed that 67 per cent of 12 to 13 year olds had a mobile phone. Mobile phones make keeping in touch with teenagers easy, but having a mobile phone also means greater responsibility for teens.

In this article we look at what parents should know before purchasing a mobile phone for their child.

Teens and parents need to be aware of the costs of a smartphone. These can be expensive especially if they exceed their monthly limits. A pre-paid plan may be a good option for a teenager because there's no risk of bill shock.

Write comment (0 Comments)

Recently ACCAN has heard reports of consumers having to replace their NBN backup batteries earlier than expected, sometimes while under warranty.

Prior to October 2014, it was mandatory to have a backup battery in an NBN box for services in fibre to the premises areas. It is now an optional feature.

Not all consumers need to have a backup battery. You only need to have one if other services are reliant on your connection, or if you have no alternative access to emergency services (e.g. via mobile services) when there is a power outage. These services include medical alarms and fixed-line telephones.

The recent reports suggest that many consumers are finding that their backup battery has needed replacing sooner than expected. ACCAN is concerned that poor quality batteries may cost consumers extra money if they keep needing to be replaced. The process of replacing a battery may be difficult for some consumers. We are concerned that some may require the assistance of a technician when replacing the battery which would also add to the costs.

Write comment (25 Comments)

The Bureau of Communications Research (BCR), a unit established last year in the Department of Communications and the Arts, was asked by the Government to consider the funding of the National Broadband Network (NBN) to regional Australia. The initial policy arrangement saw nbn funding the services, covering any losses internally from other areas of the network. The Government policy now is to distribute the cost further than the nbn network.

The BCR has produced a consultation paper presenting their preliminary findings. Below is a summary of these findings.

Write comment (0 Comments)