Hot Issues

Welcome to the latest current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

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Farmer on phone standing next to bulldozerThe Department of Communications and the Arts (DoCA) has released the Guidelines for Round 2 of the Mobile Black Spot Programme (MBSP). This means that the competitive bidding process for the Federal subsidy of $60 million by the three mobile network providers has now started.

ACCAN has compared the Round 1 and Round 2 Guidelines to identify what has changed. The Guidelines list all the criteria that the Federal Government will take into account when assessing whether to subsidise a particular site. Each criterion has a different weighting. Some of the weightings have changed this time round, and importantly there is a new 'remoteness of location criterion.' We are hopeful that this may encourage mobile coverage expanding into more remote areas where it is so badly needed. The main changes to note in the Assessment Criteria are:

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Young man using smartphoneMany plans, including pre-paid plans and some month to month plans, on the market now work on a '28 day month' meaning your credit expires after 28 days, rather than the traditional 30 or 31 days of a calendar month. This is not an entirely new practice, but it is a price hike that will affect consumers who prefer pre-paid plans or month to month contracts that do not lock you in. These consumers will get 13 bills during the year rather than 12.

Twenty-eight day plans are used by Optus, Telstra, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile and amaysim. Optus, Telstra and Vodafone also offer 30 day pre-paid plans.

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ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin, presented at the CommsDay Summit 2016 in Sydney on 4 April. This year's CommsDay Summit brought together telecoms industry leaders and politicians from across the country to discuss topics including the NBN, fixed and wireless technologies and the market.

The speakers included Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Shadow Communications Minister, Jason Clare, as well as representatives from nbn, Vodafone, Telstra, Optus and other telecommunications providers.

Teresa's presentation focused on three of ACCAN's six key priorities for consumers in 2016:

  • Improved affordability for low income consumers
  • Future protections and universal communications services
  • Improved consumer decision making

Some of these priorities were also highlighted at ACCAN's Meet the People Forum held at Parliament House in Canberra in February, 2016. The presentation also provided an overview of ACCAN's suite of consumer education materials.

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Donald Trump video with bad captionsNo one wants to be misunderstood

ACCAN is calling on all Government agencies, politicians, political parties and any other organisations that post videos online to ensure their videos have readable captions. It is especially important for politicians, political parties and government agencies to ensure that online video have captions that people can understand in the lead up to the 2016 Federal Election. Find out more about communications consumer priorities for 2016 on ACCAN's Election webpage.

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