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ACCAN's work informs public debate about consumer issues in the communications landscape.  Welcome to our collection of the latest news and current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

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The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has welcomed an overall fall in complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), however, raised concerns that small businesses may be suffering as complaint levels from the sector reach a three year high.

Complaint data published today in the TIO’s Annual Report 2020-2021 shows that complaints about phone and internet services fell 6.1% in the last financial year. Among these 119,400 complaints, the TIO identified 19,689 complaints from small businesses, the highest volume of small business complaints in the last three years. Concerningly, complaints from small businesses about no or delayed action increased by 28.2% from 2019-2020, failure to cancel a service increased by 67.6% and provider uncontactable increased by 181%.

“Phone and internet services have never been more essential for people in Australia, with much of the country working and learning from home during rolling lockdowns throughout the last financial year,” said ACCAN Deputy CEO Andrew Williams. “While it’s positive to see that the overall level of complaints has fallen, we can’t lose sight of the fact that over 100,000 people have had to escalate a phone or internet problem to the TIO because they weren’t able to have their problem resolved by their telco.”

Released today, the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan is a valuable roadmap for government, regulators, and the telecommunications industry for achieving communications services that are trusted, inclusive, obtainable, and available for all, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

The report by the nation’s independent infrastructure advisor, Infrastructure Australia, outlines key recommendations to Australia’s infrastructure sector that aim to drive economic growth, maintain and enhance the standard of living in Australia, and improve the resilience and sustainability of essential infrastructure.

“As the voice for communications consumers, ACCAN was very proud to partner with Infrastructure Australia on the development of the Telecommunications and digital chapter within the 2021 report,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin.

The board of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) today announces that ACCAN’s CEO of 11 years, Teresa Corbin, will be leaving at the end of October 2021 to take up an exciting new career opportunity.

Deirdre O’Donnell, ACCAN Chairperson said, “Teresa’s time as leader of ACCAN has been of enormous importance to our organisation in broadening its impact and its influence - always in the best interests of all consumers - on the Australian telecommunications industry. We know her legacy is a significant one, and we look forward to celebrating her many achievements at an appropriate time later this year.”

Ms O’Donnell added, “The board is confident that ACCAN as an organisation is in a wonderful position thanks to Teresa’s leadership. The ACCAN board will initiate recruitment for our next CEO in the months ahead. We are very pleased that from November Andrew Williams, ACCAN’s Deputy CEO will step up as acting CEO.

With millions of Australians facing extended lockdowns, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has called on NBN Co to fast-track the introduction of a low-income product to allow struggling households to work and learn remotely.

The call to action comes as part of the consumer advocacy group’s submission to NBN Co’s Special Access Undertaking Variation 2021 Discussion Paper.

“Communities in New South Wales are now entering their sixth week of lockdown. For those in Greater Sydney, that has meant homes have had to double as offices and classrooms for millions of Australians,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin.

“The sad reality is that not everyone has access to a reliable broadband connection at home. Some households have had to try and support simultaneous work meetings and online education from a single slow hotspot from a mobile phone, while others have been unable to learn online at all.”

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has promoted veteran executive Andrew Williams to Deputy Chief Executive Officer and human rights specialist Meredith Lea to Policy Manager, as part of the organisation’s investment in a growing leadership team.

ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin said the promotions recognised the important role that the pair have played in advancing ACCAN’s work towards ensuring communications services are trusted, inclusive, accessible, and available for all.

 Today’s renewal of the telco COVID-19 principles by the telecommunications industry is a symbolic effort but will not sufficiently protect telco consumers, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

First introduced in April 2020, the telecommunications hardship principles for COVID-19 were co-designed by the Federal Government and the telecommunications industry to provide a consistent baseline across industry to help customers stay connected, including those who are experiencing hardship.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has heeded the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN)’s call for no Australian to be left offline, with the release of the Human Rights and Technology Final Report

The report, presented to the Attorney General, details the Australian Human Rights Commission’s support for a concessional broadband rate for low-income households to make internet access more affordable and improve digital inclusion.

“The past year has demonstrated just how essential it is to be online,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin. “With Melbourne in the midst of its latest lockdown, and families forced back into remote work and schooling, we need to act now to make sure that our most vulnerable have access to a reliable, affordable broadband product.”

Australia’s consumer voice on communications issues, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), has cautioned that consumers may seek alternative home broadband solutions, like 5G, if NBN prices are not addressed.

“As home broadband alternatives like 5G become more accessible in more areas across the country, NBN Co is going to have to demonstrate to cost-conscious consumers why they should choose an NBN service over these alternatives,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin. “This means that they’re going to have to provide more competitive wholesale prices if they want to keep customers in these areas.”

Proposed rules for wholesale telecommunications service providers must be tightened to protect Australians from under-performing phone and internet services, and slow connection and fault rectification timeframes, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

The draft Telecommunications (Statutory Infrastructure Providers – Standards, Rules and Benchmarks) Determination 2021 proposes standards, rules and benchmarks for telecommunications carriers that provide wholesale broadband services, such as NBN Co. The rules proposed are in relation to timeframes for connections, repairs and appointment keeping, rebates, speeds, remediation and record keeping.

New analysis commissioned by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) shows that urgent action is needed to address the digital divide in remote Indigenous communities in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns.

While much of the nation turned to digital services such as videoconferencing and telehealth during the rolling lockdowns put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic, very few remote Indigenous communities were able to work or learn from home, or access government and health services online. With access by service providers limited by travel restrictions, many people were left without access to essential services. In some remote communities, the Wi-Fi hotspot, the only point of access, was switched off to avoid people congregating.

“COVID-19 saw communities without food and necessities of life because of the lack of access to adequate, reliable, and robust telecommunications,” said ACCAN Board Member and proud Torres Strait Islander, Dr Heron Loban.

The Australian Communication Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) welcomed today’s announced measures from the ACCC to improve the affordability of entry-level nbn plan, and to ensure that consumers are better compensated for missed nbn appointments.

“The issue of affordable broadband has never been more real for the millions of Australians who have turned to online services this year for access to healthcare, education, work, and government services,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin.

“We’re pleased that following the ACCC’s recommendation, NBN Co have agreed to reduce the price of their entry-level access bundle. However, it is disappointing that the ACCC has not recognised that 12/1 Mbps nbn plans are not an adequate entry-level option for most consumers.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has welcomed NBN Co’s decision to extend its Education Assistance offer until 15 January 2021. The targeted offer from NBN Co waives the wholesale costs for many services on the 25/5 Mbps speed tier and encourages telcos to offer free or heavily discounted nbn plans to low-income households with school-aged children.

“The nbn Education Assistance offer has meant that thousands of low-income households have been able to connect to the nbn for the first time,” said ACCAN Director of Policy, Una Lawrence.

“Without the financial assistance from this offer, many struggling households couldn’t afford a fixed home broadband connection. This would leave countless children offline and unable to learn from home during the rolling shutdowns of schools across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.”