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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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ACCAN welcomes the ACMA’s release of the Service Continuity and Consumer Information Standards.

‘These are important safeguards that will help make the move to NBN-based services easier for consumers, and ACCAN has been calling for such measures for some time’ said Teresa Corbin, ACCAN CEO. ‘Many consumers have contacted us about a range of frustrating experiences as they try to navigate their way between their retail telco and NBN. We welcome these measures, which we believe will go some way to reducing these problems’

The Rural Regional and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) has welcomed today’s announcement by the Regional Communications Minister, Senator Bridget McKenzie that there will be a fourth round of the Mobile Blackspots Program.

“Despite initial disappointment that further funding was not available in this year’s Federal Budget, we are delighted that the Government has made this important announcement today," National Farmers' Federation (NFF) President Fiona Simson said.

ACCAN welcomes the ACMA’s publication today of the first tranche of new rules to improve consumers’ experience in switching to the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The new rules are: Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard 2018 and, Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints) Record Keeping Rules 2018.

Teresa Corbin, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network CEO (ACCAN) has presented to the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) on the National Broadband Network in Sydney today with a raft of recommendations emphasising the need for improved service standards for satellite, fixed wireless, ADSL and copper legacy technologies for broadband services to regional, rural and remote areas of Australia. Her opening statement concerned the following issues:

The Rural Regional and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) is disappointed the Federal Government failed to commit to funding subsequent rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program in this week’s Budget.

Improved mobile coverage is essential for Australia’s agriculture sector to become a $100 billion industry by 2030 and is critical for the health and economic well-being of regional communities.

“Mobile coverage is a major problem for a lot of our members.

"The Government’s failure to commit additional funding to the Mobile Black Spot Program is a let-down for regional communities,” Derek Schoen, NSW Farmers President said.

The RRRCC recognises that some mobile black spot towers, funded under previous rounds of the Program, are yet to be built, and urges the Government and industry partners to expedite the roll-out of this vital infrastructure.

"We are huge supporters of the Program. It is delivering for regional communities and businesses, and will continue to do so with current funding," Australian Communications Consumer Action Network CEO Teresa Corbin said.

ACCAN is alarmed that complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) have increased by 28.7 percent in the six months to December 2017, compared to the same time the previous year. The peak Australian telecommunications consumer body says the TIO’s latest statistics reinforce the need for urgent industry action to put customers first.

“Continuing high numbers of complaints shine a spotlight on weak consumer protections that have existed in telecommunications for some time. This is upheld by the fact that complaint numbers have increased across the board in mobile, fixed line phones and internet services”, said ACCAN CEO, Ms. Teresa Corbin.

“Arguments about whether complaints are the responsibility of the wholesale provider (NBN) or retail service providers do not help consumers resolve these problems quickly. ACCAN strongly supports the new raft of ACMA rules as they are badly needed - particularly the new complaint handling standard and complaints reporting rules.

 

ACCAN CEO - Teresa CorbinACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin, discussed a range of telecommunications consumer issues in a speech today at the CommsDay Sydney Summit. In particular, Ms Corbin outlined issues related to the ACCC inquiry into the Wholesale Service Standard and the consumer perspective on the ACMA new rules currently out for consultation.

Ms Corbin said “Currently, NBN’s wholesale service standard levels are set out in commercial agreements negotiated by NBN co with retail service providers (NBN’s Wholesale Broadband Agreement) but do not always lead to good outcomes for customers when it comes to connection times, fault repairs, appointment keeping and network reliability’.

The NBN environment is quite complex with a wholesaler, retail service provider and sometimes an aggregator as well involved in providing services to consumers. The ACCC inquiry on “whether NBN wholesale service standard levels are appropriate is strongly supported by consumer groups who believe that regulation is necessary to improve customer experiences.

Cat sitting around laptop requesting broadband speed volunteersACCAN welcomes the release of the first round of results from the ACCC’s Measuring Broadband Australia speed monitoring program, and its generally positive findings. ‘We’ve long been calling for the independent monitoring of broadband speeds so consumers know what they’re likely to be getting when they buy a service. We’re strongly supportive of the ACCC’s work in this area’ ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin said today.

‘Complaints about broadband speeds are at a record high. There is an obvious need for clear and accurate consumer information on what to expect from broadband services’ said ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin. ‘The ACCC’s results make broadband speeds more transparent. This is important, because it helps consumers understand how services are actually performing, and gives them the tools they need to choose services best suited to their needs’.

The latest report shows that NBN fixed broadband plans from iiNet, Optus, TPG, and Telstra are typically delivering download speeds of around 80 to just over 90 per cent of the advertised maximum plan speed at the busiest time of the day (7-11pm), and performing consistently throughout the day. They are also achieving positive uploads speeds.

Young woman looking concerned about her mobil ebill ACCAN welcomes the ACCC’s announcement today that it has commenced proceedings against Telstra for misleading its customers about third party billing services.

ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin said that consumers have been extremely frustrated by these unexpected charges on their telco bills and by the difficulties they experience in resolving them. An ACCAN survey last year found 12% of mobile customers had experienced unexpected third party charges on their mobile phone bills in the preceding 6 months.

‘We’ve been calling for stronger consumer protections in this area for some time, including that all third party charging become opt-in, instead of the current opt-out arrangement’, said Ms Corbin. ‘Many people don’t realise that their mobile phone account can effectively be used like a credit card to purchase third party content, like games credits’.

The ACCC has found that Telstra has earned about $61.7m from commissions on third party premium direct billing.

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