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The Australian Bureau of Statistics is reviewing what data is collected around information and communication technologies (ICT) and how it is used. ICT data is vital in ACCAN's work to measure and identify consumers who are disadvantaged by poor communications services, and are unable to afford communications products. There are a number of bodies that publish data regularly on telecommunications, but often different definitions are used making the data hard to compare.

The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014 was introduced into Parliament on 30 October 2014 and is currently being reviewed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

The Bill will require telecommunications service providers to retain telecommunications data (also commonly referred to as metadata) for two years. Metadata is information about communications (e.g. the time a phone call was made and its duration), information about the parties to the communication (e.g. the sender and the receiver) including account and location information, and the device used. It does not require that service providers retain the content or substance of a communication, but metadata can still reveal a lot of information about an individual and those they interact with. For example, revealing who a person is in contact with, how often and where, can help to paint a picture of that person's private political opinions, sexual habits, religion or medical conditions.

The Department of Communications has consulted on an update to the 2011 Fibre in New Developments Policy. The consultation document sets out proposed arrangements for the delivery of broadband in new housing developments and the charges NBN Co can levy on developers and owners. This is part of a package of Government responses to the recommendations of the 2014 Vertigan review and cost benefit analysis. The update aims to promote competition among infrastructure providers, and new arrangements are to be in place by 1st March 2015. One significant change is that developers and owners will now have to meet some of the costs that NBN Co has carried until now (fibre roll out and connection).

How consumers are migrated from Telstra to NBN Co is set out in procedures in a Migration Plan. These were initially put in place in 2011 when the Government's NBN plan was to rollout fibre to the premises (FTTP). Since then the National Broadband Network (NBN) model has changed to be delivered using a Multi Technology Mix (MTM), using technologies such as fibre to the node (FTTN), fibre to the basement (FTTB) and HFC. The new range of technologies requires a revised Migration Plan. The Department of Communications ran a consultation over the Christmas/New Year period on principles to be used in the new Migration Plan, and ACCAN has submitted identifying some consumer issues to be taken into account.

ACCAN submitted to the draft report of the Harper review to provide feedback on recommendations to reform competition law and policy in relation to intellectual property (IP), institutions and governance.

Against the background of the Federal Government's deregulation agenda, the telecommunications industry peak body, Communications Alliance, consulted on amendments to the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code 2012. This version of the Code had just finished being rolled out in September 2014. Since the Code was introduced two years ago Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman complaints have fallen by 28 per cent to the lowest point in six years. Our submission outlines why we don't think it is the right time to be taking away the very consumer protections that have led to reduced complaints.

ACCAN believes access to communications is fundamental to the economic and social wellbeing of consumers. The ACCC sets access prices for fixed line infrastructure that is used to provide phone and internet services to consumers. This submission to the ACCC provides feedback on consumer concerns about the pricing structure.

In mid-2014 ACCAN commissioned disability mystery shopping research to identify the amount of information and the ease of accessing information about telecommunications products and services from the major telcos: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, iiNet and TPG. Disappointingly, as anecdotal reports had foreshadowed, the results we received were not good.

Mobile Premium Services (MPS) are information and entertainment services that deliver various forms of content to your mobile phone. The MPS Code aims to safeguard consumers from an industry which has a history of poor practice. Since the Code was introduced complaints related to MPS have fallen, as a result industry is proposing that amendments be made to the Code.

The International Mobile Roaming Standard requires mobile service providers to warn consumers about usage costs and limits when they use their mobile phones overseas. Since the introduction of the Standard consumer complaints have dramatically reduced. However, industry has proposed to remove the Standard.

This submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications considers the effectiveness of section 313(3) of the Telecommunications Act 1997. This section allows government agencies to request communications providers do things like block websites because they might be breaking the law.

ACCAN has made a submission to the ACCC's Domestic Mobile Terminating Access Service (MTAS) Final Access Determination. ACCAN endorsed the ACCC's preliminary finding that mobile voice and SMS termination services should be declared for five years and are now providing feedback on the pricing model.