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ACCAN made a submission to the House of Representatives inquiry into 5G in Australia. ACCAN highlighted the need for whole of community engagement in the roll-out of 5G across Australia, emphasising the role that the telecommunications industry and government agencies need to undertake to ensure that consumer information is easily accessible, reliable and evidence based.

ACCAN participated on the review of the industry code, C625 Information on Accessible Features for Telephone Equipment Code. The Code requires handset manufacturers to provide information about the accessibility features on their handsets to telcos. It also requires that handset manufacturers make this same information freely available to consumers. The updated Code also includes ACCAN’s Accessible Telecoms service as an alternative way for consumers to get information about accessibility features for handsets.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) recently sought feedback on its Draft Privacy Safeguard Guidelines for the Consumer Data Right (CDR) regime. The Guidelines explain the Information Commissioner’s interpretation of the privacy safeguards and Consumer Data Rules, and provide examples of how the privacy safeguards and Consumer Data Rules may apply in certain situations. As the CDR regime will be extended to the telecommunications sector in the future, after first being implemented in the banking and energy sectors, ACCAN provided a response to the OAIC’s Guidelines.

ACCAN has submitted to the ACCC’s consultation concerning its draft decision on Wholesale Service Standards. The purpose of the inquiry is to determine whether NBN wholesale service levels are appropriate and to consider whether a determination on service levels is required to improve customer outcomes. ACCAN has long advocated for reform of existing customer service guarantees surrounding connection timeframes, fault rectification and network reliability.

NBN Co is consulting on options to change its wholesale prices to lift the demand for its broadband services, and on options for managing network usage to make services more attractive for retailers and consumers. Unusually, NBN Co has published its consultation paper, a move supported by ACCAN.

The Department of Home Affairs has been undertaking consultation around the development of Australia’s next Cyber Security Strategy. The current Cyber Security Strategy was written in 2016 and set goals to be completed over four years.

ACCAN has responded to the Department of Home Affairs’ discussion paper, to ensure that the experiences of consumers, including small businesses, are reflected in the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy. In our submission we focused on consumer concerns about cyber security, including the impact that cybercrimes have on consumers, including small businesses; the information asymmetry that can exist between consumers and manufacturers; and the threats to consumer privacy that can occur due to cyberattacks or insecure connected devices.

The Department of the Treasury, as one of the agencies involved in the implementation of the Consumer Data Right (CDR) regime, recently appointed Maddocks lawyers to conduct an independent privacy impact assessment regarding the initial implementation of the CDR. Maddocks has completed their draft privacy impact assessment report and requested stakeholder feedback on this draft.

Given that the CDR regime will be extended to the telecommunications sector, after first being implemented in the banking and energy sectors, ACCAN has been engaging with issues relating to the CDR and its implementation. This includes a short response to Maddocks’ draft privacy impact assessment.

ACCAN has made a submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Mobile Terminating Access Service (MTAS) inquiry, about the ACCC’s Final Access Determination (FAD) on price and non-price terms.

ACCAN recently submitted to the Australian Treasury’s consultation about the implementation of the recommendations of the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry Final Report. The Final Report provided recommendations to:

  • Promote competition among the services offered by digital platforms;
  • Enhance privacy protections for consumers;
  • Provide for a dedicated external dispute resolution body for consumers seeking to make a complaint about digital platforms; and
  • Prohibit certain unfair trading practices and terms currently faced by consumers.

ACCAN strongly supports the contents of the final report and our submission outlines how we believe that the recommendations can be progressed over the coming months.

The Regional Connectivity Program is part of the Government’s $220 million Stronger Regional Digital Connectivity Package. It was announced in the Government’s response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review.

The Regional Connectivity Program will complement the NBN, the Mobile Black Spot Program and commercial investment plans of telco providers. The $60 million funding of the Regional Connectivity Program includes:

  • A competitive grants program
  • A digital technology hub
  • Alternative voice service trials in remote areas
  • Further development of the Universal Service Guarantee

The Department of Communications and the Arts is consulting on the application framework for grants to build communications infrastructure in rural, regional and remote communities.

This consultation focused on the design of the competitive grants program.

ACCAN wrote a submission supporting the Department’s approach and made a number of additional suggestions in order to ensure the program provides money to the communities that most need it.

‘Standards Australia is reviewing the ways in which it distributes and licenses its standards. Standards are documents that set a benchmark for how something should be done or made by an individual, company, or industry. They can be adopted into regulation or legislation. Standards Australia has been investigating how to license and distribute standards in a way that delivers:

  • Greater reach for Standards Australia’s content,
  • Better awareness and use of standards,
  • Financial sustainability.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has conducted a second-round of consultation on the Emergency Call Service (ECS) Determination. A draft ECS Determination 2019 was provided for comment, in which a number of changes have been made based on the results of the first consultation process (completed in November 2018). It also outlines options for a trial of alternative call handling methods for SIM-less calls to the ECS.