Monday, 02 May 2016 20:06

Consumers getting raw deal on broadband services, ACCAN calls for government action Featured

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Consumers getting raw deal on broadband services, ACCAN calls for government action Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net/images

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) is concerned about what it says is a lack of information available to consumers about broadband services and issues of performance and slow Internet speeds. The network now wants the Federal Government to fund an independent broadband monitoring program.

The ACCAN was responding on Monday to the latest report from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) revealing that for the three months to the end of March there was a 25% spike in complaints by consumers about Internet services compared with the level of complaints one year ago.

According to the ACCAN, it has previously raised issues around performance and slow Internet speeds as “consumers do not have access to independent data on broadband performance”.

In fact, the ACCAN says a survey it conducted earlier this year showed that quality is an important factor for consumers when they are choosing a broadband service.

And, nearly 70% of the respondents to the ACCAN survey said they had unsatisfactory experiences with their broadband services with the top reason being slow speeds at some times of the day.

Monday’s statement from ACCAN said: “ACCAN is calling on the government to fund an independent broadband monitoring program that would give consumers access to performance information so they can make more informed decisions when choosing a broadband plan.”

Commenting further on the TIO report, the ACCAN says there was an 18% increase in “unusable internet services and connection delay complaints” for internet services - up by 48% from the same quarter last year.

The ACCAN points out that currently consumers do not have guaranteed fault repair or connection timeframes for data services.

“The Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) only applies to landline telephone services. Given how important an internet connection is, ACCAN doesn’t think this is good enough and is calling for the CSG to be extended to internet services.

“This is especially important as more and more consumers switch-over to the NBN. No consumer should be worse off during or after the switch-over to the NBN,” the ACCAN concludes.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year 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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