Conroy announces new funding plan for ACCAN

Conroy announces new funding plan for ACCAN

Plans to invest more than $2 million a year on ACCAN and outlines other telco developments

Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has introduced a new funding plan for the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), through to 2017.

He was speaking at the ACCAN 2012 national conference in Sydney.

Senator Conroy said the Gillard government will invest more than $2 million a year for ACCAN to broaden its reach and consolidate its position as an advocacy body.

“This will ensure that the consumer continues to have a strong and unified voice. This will reinforce ACCAN’s role as a key player in the industry and allow consumers to be better represented,” he said.

Senator Conroy mentioned that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will be provided with new powers to make service provider determinations on consumer protection methods.

“This will provide ACMA with the flexibility to introduce consumer protection measures that is satisfactory to consumers. Examples of some rules that may be made are around advertising and marketing, notifying customers on terms and conditions or rules around monitoring a customer’s charges,” he said.

ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, outlined its plans surrounding the TCP Code and how its changes will affect the telco industry.

“It will give consumers a better idea of what is being offered. I’m hopeful that most players have bought into the necessity to lift their game and comply with the code. We are and will be watching and responding to non-compliance of the code,” Chapman said.

Senator Conroy also outlined some key telecommunications priorities for the Gillard government.

According to Senator Conroy, it will be looking into these issues in the coming months:

  • Enforcing an industry standard for international, global roaming in the next 12 months.
  • An increased focus on regional telecommunications to increase broadband speeds in those areas by eight times
  • Increasing its uptake of satellite services
  • Making improvements to its indigenous communications program
  • Funding of the digital hub enterprise and digital local government program
  • Delivering an enhanced national relay service to improve the TIO and closely monitor the newly implemented TCP code.

“As the new telco landscape unfolds, solutions to problems require industries, consumers, and the government to work closely,” he added.

ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin, outlined the next steps in its contribution.

In the next year, it will be looking into setting a national standard for Cloud computing, copyright, and communications consumers; focusing on the IT pricing enquiry; investigating perennial products such as international calling cards; mobile coverage issues for regional consumers; and working with its members in indigenous consumer systems network on problems affecting indigenous people in regional Queensland areas.

The body will also be introducing a few grant program schemes in the coming months.

“We are change agents, and are entering a new phase of consumer advocacy as a peak body. Together with Communications Alliance and ACMA, we are exploring new opportunities for partnerships and working together,” she said.

The body has also recently launched a new publication, Making the Right Call, which is a guide for consumers that illustrates their rights as a phone and Internet customer.

It is also currently undertaking its second ACCAN survey, which will aid in making further changes in the telco space.

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