Monday, 27 May 2019 18:53

ACCAN stresses need for Fletcher to focus on affordable broadband Featured

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ACCAN stresses need for Fletcher to focus on affordable broadband Pixabay

Australians need to have access to affordable broadband and voice services, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Australia's peak body for consumer representation in communications, says, adding that it looks forward to engaging with new Communications Minister Paul Fletcher to support this outcome.

In a statement issued following Fletcher's appointment on Sunday, ACCAN chief executive Teresa Corbin said: “With 2020 fast approaching, there are over a million households who are at risk of not making the switch over to the NBN.

"The minister and his team need to understand the negative consequences that this will have on everyday Australians who need access to affordable broadband for school, work, and to use government services. The future viability of the NBN also relies on these households being connected.”

Welcoming Fletcher's appointment, Corbin said there would be a number of milestones, challenges and opportunities for telecommunications in Australia over the next three years. "From the rollout of 5G, to the anticipated completion of the NBN network, we look forward to working with Minister Fletcher during this exciting time to achieve better outcomes for consumers," she added.

ACCAN said the continuation of the Consumer Safeguards Review was sure to be a priority for Fletcher, pointing out that while consultations for the second part of the review on Reliability of Services had ended in January, no report had been released to indicate the way forward.

"Australians have a right to reliable home broadband," Corbin said. "However, without a clear framework that identifies timeframes for connections, fault repairs and compensation, consumers are left confused as to what protections they have when things go wrong.”

ACCAN also said it welcomed the chance to work with Fletcher on the Mobile Black Spot Program, an initiative he had started. "As a member of the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition, ACCAN looks forward to the implementation of the Morrison Government’s response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review, and delivery of programs funded in the April Federal Budget," the statement said.

Added Corbin: "Access to reliable communications is life-changing in our rural and regional communities. We are hopeful that the continuation of the Mobile Black Spot Program and implementation of the Regional Connectivity Program will help to close the digital divide between country and urban communities.”

Optus vice-president for Regulatory and Public Affairs, Andrew Sheridan, also welcomed the appointment of Fletcher, a former Optus official himself.

"With his extensive experience in the sector, his deep understanding of communications policy and the commercial realities that impact our industry, Optus welcomes the appointment," he said in a statement.

"In an era of rapid evolution in the telecommunications sector, we look forward to working with Minister Fletcher, and the new government more broadly, on decisions critical to Australia’s 5G future such as more effective, efficient deployment rules for 5G.

"We thank [former communications minister] Mitch Fifield for his continued leadership in the communications portfolio which saw his ministry deliver significant progress in the rollout of the NBN, and improvements in customer experience in response to industry and consumer feedback about the NBN."

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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