Wednesday, 05 December 2018 11:30

Regional telecoms users promised services that can’t be delivered: ACCAN Featured


Telecommunications consumer interest lobby group ACCAN says rural and remote telecoms consumers will be better protected if recommendations put forward by the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review are adopted by the Australian Government. But it has harsh criticism of regional consumers being promised telecoms services that could not be delivered.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network says that the report’s recommended audit of landline phone performances identifies loopholes in the current arrangement which do not serve the interests of consumers.  

“There is stark disparity between the experiences of regional consumers when it comes to the performance of their landline phone services and what is promised,” said ACCAN chief executive Teresa Corbin.  

“We hope that this audit will stamp out future instances of regional users being promised services that can’t be delivered.”

ACCAN has now called on the government to adopt the recommendations, many of which it says echo the reforms that its regional members have long been advocating for, including the importance of consumer safeguards.

The consumer group says the report recognises the essential nature of communications in everyday life, and the necessity of improving access to telecommunications infrastructure, consumer protections and digital literacy for regional, rural and remote Australians.

“It is reassuring to see that the Independent Committee has listened to the voices of country Australia as they’ve spelled out what they need from a modern telco service,” said Corbin.  

“We hope that the Government will implement these recommendations in a timely manner to help protect communications consumers across the regions.”

ACCAN stresses that it has been a vocal supporter of the need to independently measure the speed performance of fixed-wireless and satellite NBN services to determine where the issues may lie.

“It is extremely pleasing to see that the report echoes these thoughts, as shown by the recommendation for a similar program for regional fixed-wireless and NBN Sky Muster customers,” ACCAN said.

It says it strongly supports the review’s proposed package to improve broadband and mobile service in regional Australia.

“The recommendation calling for a Regional Connectivity Package to improve broadband and mobile services in regional areas is vitally important,” ACCAN says. However, Corbin stressed that this needs to be supported by adequate funding.

“ACCAN has been pleased to work with members of the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition to represent a strong consumer voice throughout the review process. The Regional Telecommunications Review is an extremely important assessment of the state of communications for Australians outside of major cities.

“Widespread consultations were undertaken by the Independent Committee and this is clearly demonstrated in the in-depth report and its fearless recommendations, as tabled by Senator Bridget McKenzie,” ACCAN said.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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