New group to fight for consumer telco rights

Govt splurges $700k to repair telco reputation

The Australian Communications Consumers Action Network (ACCAN) will be the new voice for consumers in the embattled telecommunications industry following a $700,000 government grant announced Monday.

The self-regulated body will coordinate submissions from some 30 disparate consumer advocacy groups on telecommunications policy, guides and codes.

Communications minister Stephen Conroy said the group will give more power to consumers in the telecommunications industry.

“Consumers are frustrated that their needs and complaints are not adequately recognised by telecommunications providers,” Conroy said.

“This is an important development for consumers, who through this new group will have a more powerful voice and will be better represented in the establishment of frameworks for future service delivery.

“ACCAN has already started to identify priority research areas to ensure its position as the authoritative peak telecommunications consumer organisation. Strong consumer representation in telecommunications will put pressure on the industry to lift its game and respond better to consumer needs.”

The group will work as a proactive entity in tandem with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) which is a reactive body that mediates disputes between telecommunications providers and consumers.

The TIO office received102,463 complaints last year, up from 55,515 in 2003, and is expected to set another record by year's end. The grant follows $87,000 of transitional funds awarded to the body in June this year.

ACCAN will be coordinated by the Consumers Telecommunications Network.

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Darren Pauli

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