ACCAN recently submitted to the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) consultation on the Proposed Telecommunications Financial Hardship Industry Standard (the draft standard).

ACCAN considers that the development of the financial hardship standard is a critical improvement in consumer protections for telecommunications consumers. ACCAN acknowledges and welcomes the actions by the Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland and the ACMA to progress the development of these protections.

ACCAN is supportive of the contents of the draft standard. We are pleased to see that it:

ACCAN recently provided a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications on the Optus Network Outage (the Outage) occurring on 8 November.

As with all mass outage events, the Outage on Wednesday 8 November caused significant disruption across Australia. It inconvenienced customers, closed businesses, and disrupted access to essential services. In ACCAN’s view the Outage highlighted systemic issues that require renewed attention.

While there is significant policy work underway to address network reliability issues, the Outage raises the question of what reliability settings are appropriate, in an environment of widespread uptake of and reliance on connectivity. Answering this question requires consideration of the social and economic costs of disconnection, which should inform policy decisions with respect to reliability frameworks.

ACCAN recently commented on the C555:2023 Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) Industry Code.

The IPND provides an important public asset for emergency calls, emergency warnings and law enforcement.

ACCAN is pleased to see that the revised code provides:

The Board of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) today announces that, for personal reasons, ACCAN’s CEO Andrew Williams, will leave the organisation in February 2024.

Professor Julian Thomas, ACCAN’s Chairperson said, “Andrew has been with ACCAN for nearly five years, firstly as our Director of Operations and as our CEO for the last two years.  During this time he has led the organisation through a period of significant transition and on behalf of the Board I thank him very much for his contributions. 

ACCAN recently submitted to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts (the Department) consultation on possible amendments to the Telecommunications in New Developments Policy – Mobile Connectivity and Other Measures. ACCAN supports the proposed changes, and we further recommend the Department:

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) is calling on the Federal Government to implement direct regulation, via a service provider determination, to protect consumers facing domestic and family violence.

ACCAN welcomed the Government’s decision earlier this year to enforce protections for financial hardship. Yet just as financial hardship should not be a reason Australians are forced to go without essential communications services, victim-survivors of domestic and family violence (DFV) should not be cut off from crucial means of communication due to the actions of abusers or as a result of poor practice on the part of service providers.

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Summary

Telecommunications are a vital service for victim-survivors of Domestic and Family Violence (DFV), who often need assistance from their provider to retain a safe and affordable service. In contrast, communication services can also be used to facilitate DFV, which can lead to considerable consumer detriment. Current codes and guidelines do not effectively support and protect consumers or promote uniformity in the communications industry.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) recommends the Minister for Communications implement direct regulation via a service provider determination to support consumers affected by DFV.1 Protections for consumers experiencing or at risk of DFV must be enforceable via direct regulation noting the material risks to personal safety that consumers affected by DFV may face when their access to essential communications services is disrupted or interfered with.  

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has welcomed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) acceptance of NBN Co’s Special Access Undertaking (SAU) Variation.

The SAU sets out the rules by which NBN Co provides wholesale access to retailers. It will determine the price and quality of voice and broadband services delivered over the NBN until 2040.

ACCAN recently submitted to the Department of Social Services (the Department) on the National Housing and Homelessness Plan (the Plan). ACCAN recommended that the Plan consider digital inclusion to facilitate the active and equal participation of people experiencing housing precarity and suggested the Department:

ACCAN recently submitted to the ACCC 2023 Strategic Review – Compliance and Enforcement Priorities 2023-24. ACCAN supports the ACCC maintaining the following priorities into 2024-2025:

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has welcomed the findings of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)’s latest Annual Report showing that complaint numbers have declined notably in the last 12 months.

TIO data published today demonstrates a 16.5% reduction in complaints in 2022-23 compared with the previous year. While this is a welcome trend, mobile service complaints now account for 48% of all complaints lodged with the Ombudsman, and are proportionally at their highest level in over six years.