Around 900,000 Australian households still do not have a home internet connection despite an increase in distance learning, telehealth services and working from home over the past two years, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network has revealed. .
His last political position The future of broadband warns that durable provisions that protect the interests of Australians are needed to protect consumers.
Australians have suffered lockdowns, natural disasters and major increases in the cost of living since the National Broadband Network (NBN) was declared ‘built-in’ by the federal government.
“Experiences like these have highlighted how essential communications technologies are and how important it is that these technologies are reliable, resilient and affordable,” comments Andrew Williams, CEO of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN ).
Citing research from ACCAN, Williams said 57% of low-income Australians struggled to pay for home broadband services.
“It’s unacceptable in a country as wealthy as ours,” Williams said.
“To ensure that the interests of all Australian consumers are protected, there are a number of conditions that must be met on all fixed broadband networks to ensure that everyone can connect and stay connected, not just those who can afford to pay for it,” he suggested.
This would include transparent reporting of hardship arrangements, disconnections and localized network performance, as well as the provision of subsidized broadband service.
Telecom operators must also provide standard customer service guarantees that protect households against poor customer service, such as missed appointments.
ACCAN urges public Wi-Fi providers and public benefit programs to expand their services based on community needs, so that people can access the Internet regardless of their circumstances.
“There is currently no regulated reliability framework for broadband networks. Creating such a framework would help address some of the reliability issues faced by consumers, especially if broadband networks were held to account for their reliability performance,” Williams pointed out.
“Extending this reporting requirement to the retail sector would bring the telecommunications sector in line with other utilities like gas, electricity and water, and give people greater confidence when it’s about choosing the right supplier for them.”
This first appeared in the CommsWire subscription newsletter on July 8, 2022.
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