Media Releases

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. 

Sign up for ACCAN's weekly newsletter to have these news items emailed to you each week.

Media enquiries:
Mobile: 0409 966 931 (calls only, no texts please)
Phone: 02 9288 4000
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[ List view  |  Detailed view ]

Report cover image of locked mobile phone displaying $10 noteA major report into telecommunications affordability today launched jointly by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) highlights concerns about low-income consumers in staying connected to telecommunications services.

The report, Connectivity Costs: Telecommunications Affordability for Low-Income Australians, which was based on a survey of over 500 Centrelink recipients and low-income Health Care Card holders, as well as a series of focus groups, found that:

  • 66 per cent of respondents rated telecommunications among the five most important factors in their household budget; but
  • 62 per cent reported difficulty paying, having to cut back or that they had stopped using one or more telecommunications services for financial reasons in the last 12 months.

In a speech at the CommsDay Melbourne Congress 2016, ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin, outlined eight major priority areas for ACCAN in 2016-17. The consumer centred priorities relate to ACCAN’s core focus area of achieving affordable, available and accessible communications products and services for all Australians.

As an organisation, ACCAN represents all residential consumers and small businesses, including not-for-profit organisations. Each policy priority aims to address a segment of the market that is not working for a group or groups within Australia.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has launched its ‘Get Connected’ consumer resource which includes a mapping tool and a series of useful steps for consumers who are struggling to get an ADSL connection while they are waiting for NBN to arrive in their area. Issues accessing ADSL services have become a common complaint for consumers, particularly those who move into new areas.

The mapping tool helps consumers to understand the reasons that may be preventing them from getting an ADSL service. For example, if there are few ports available at the local exchange, if the neighbourhood is too far from an exchange or if the exchange is not ADSL enabled. The NBN will be connecting all areas and offering fast broadband connections for consumers. However, some consumers may be waiting months or years for the NBN to reach them. This mapping tool and accompanying useful steps will help them to make a decision about what services would meet their needs in the short to medium term.

ACCAN’s 2016 National Conference, ACCANect: Equipping Consumers to Stay Connected, kicks off this morning with a focus on empowering consumers to get and stay connected to the phone and broadband services they need. Over two days the event will cover a range of topics including digital inclusion, affordability and digital government.

“We’re looking forward to exploring the issues that consumers face in getting connected particularly as our reliance on broadband to access services, education and employment opportunities grows,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin. “Over the two days we’ll hear from experts about new research into digital inclusion and affordability. Sessions at the event will feature panel discussions on how we bridge the divide and get everyone connected and will examine barriers to getting connected.”

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) believes that consumers need more information on broadband speeds and that this information should be clear and presented upfront. Broadband performance issues are the highest growing area of consumer complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, and ACCAN is regularly contacted by consumers about unusable broadband services.

ACCAN’s submission to the ACCC’s consultation on broadband speed claims highlights that information provided to consumers about broadband speeds is often confusing and can also be misleading as claimed speeds frequently don’t match reality.

In its submission to the Productivity Commission’s review of the Universal Service Obligation (USO), the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has proposed an expanded scope for the USO, broader affordability measures and changes to ensure greater inclusion for people with a disability. The proposed changes would ensure that all consumers have access to essential communications services.

The current USO only guarantees supply of a standard telephone voice service. ACCAN believes this scope must be broadened to also guarantee data services, essential content (education and government services) and include service guarantees for connection, fault repairs and reliability standards.

A group of community organisations is calling the future Federal Government to increase assistance to people and families on low incomes in light of new data highlighting telecommunications exclusion.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) and Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) are calling for a review of the Centrelink Telephone Allowance (CTA), pointing to the inadequacies of current entitlements in supporting low-income consumers to stay connected to phones and the internet. The CTA is a quarterly allowance designed to help consumers on income support payments to stay connected to telecommunications services.

“In our digital age telecommunications services are just as essential as water and energy,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin. “Accessible, available, and affordable communications have the potential to increase the social, economic, and community participation of all Australians. It’s vitally important that all consumers have access to communication services that are affordable so they can take advantage of government services, education and employment opportunities.”

ACCAN Election webpage logoThe Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has identified five communications consumer priorities for the 2016 Election. These are: communications affordability, future consumer protections, broadband performance monitoring, accessible ICT procurement and accessible programming on TV.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) says that extra funding the free-to-air networks will keep from the 25 per cent cut to broadcast licence fees should be used to fund improved accessibility features such as better captioning and audio description. Funding these services would help to make free-to-air TV more accessible to consumers living with a disability. The 25 per cent reduction in licence fees announced overnight in the Federal Budget follows a 50 per cent decrease to the fees in 2013.

“The cuts to the broadcast licence fees are good news for the free-to-air networks,” said ACCAN Disability Policy Advisor, Wayne Hawkins. “This funding could be used to improve captioning on free-to-air TV for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing and to put in place technology that would allow the networks to introduce audio description for people who are blind or vision impaired.”

Currently free-to-air channels do not caption any additional programming on their multi channels other than repeated programs from their primary channel. Primary channels must caption all programming between 6am and midnight as well as all news and current affairs programs. There are no requirements for audio description to be included on free-to-air television and currently none of the free-to-air networks provide this service.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has launched a guide for consumers who will receive internet services over nbn’s Sky Muster satellite. The guide will be a useful tool for consumers in these areas to help them get connected to broadband services. Sky Muster services were officially launched today.

ACCAN welcomes the launch of Sky Muster services as they will deliver improved broadband services to premises across Australia, primarily in regional and remote areas including the islands that make up Australia. Consumers in these areas have experienced poor to no broadband services, with many facing difficult situations created by the lack of adequate services and exorbitant costs.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) welcomes the three-year construction plan released by nbn but is concerned that some consumers will still be waiting up to five years for adequate broadband services. Information released about the National Broadband Network (NBN) has been limited in the last few years. This has left most consumers in the dark about when the NBN might reach them. We regularly hear frustration from our members and consumers over the lack of information and transparency of the NBN rollout. This announcement provides more information for a large number of areas and is due to be updated quarterly, meaning consumers will be more informed.

"nbn previously estimated that 20 per cent of premises in Australia were not able to access adequate services. Through this plan, and over the next three years, a large portion of these consumers will be connected to the National Broadband Network," said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin. "However, ACCAN is very concerned for consumers who have not made the list and are currently unable to get adequate broadband services. Some consumers are experiencing this if there are no ADSL ports available or their premises are too far from exchanges. Addressing areas that are currently poorly served is one of our policy priorities that we announced earlier this week.

In a speech at the CommsDay Melbourne Congress 2015, ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin, spoke about the organisation's Policy Priorities for 2015-16. The priorities cover a range of consumer issues and relate to ACCAN's three core focus areas - affordable, available and accessible communications products and services for all Australians. The complete Policy Priorities are available on ACCAN's website.

As an organisation, ACCAN represents all residential consumers and small businesses, including not-for-profit organisations. Each policy priority aims to address a segment of the market that is not working for a group/s within Australia.