The mid-term review of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has been released, finding the organisation has been a success for consumer representation.
The review, which comes after the establishment of ACCAN in July 2009, found it is effective in representing consumers in the telecommunications sector, with all submissions supporting the organisation.
“The review recognises the significant difference ACCAN has made to the telecommunications landscape in a relatively short period of time,” Senator Stephen Conroy, Communications Minister, said in a statement.
A total of 24 submissions were received for the review.
According to the report, “The review found that ACCAN satisfactorily met its obligations under its deed of agreement, which sets out key performance indicators (KPIs) for the organisation. Every submission to the review supported a continuing role for ACCAN.
“Submissions to the review highlight that ACCAN’s role is likely to become increasingly important as the telecommunications market continues to diversify. For example, the ACCC notes that as the telecommunications landscape changes due to the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN), convergence and growing technological complexity, this will present new and often unforseen challenges for consumers.”
ACCAN has already been critical on some aspects of the National Broadband Network (NBN). In a submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in September last year on NBN Co-Optus agreement, ACCAN was critical of a provision in the $800 million deal which excluded Optus from criticising the NBN for 15 years in its marketing.
“ACCAN does not consider that such anti-disparagement provisions are in the interests of consumers. Restraints on marketing practices that are part and parcel of a healthy competitive market would have a negative effect on consumers by dampening the competition that might otherwise occur,” said Jonathan Gadir, senior policy adviser at ACCAN, in its submission.
The mid-term review came up with seven recommendations, including undertaking steps to represent small businesses better; developing an engagement framework to formalise consultation with the industry; becoming more involved in the development of telco industry standards; and developing communications which are relevant to the consumer audience.
Conroy said his department will work with ACCAN to implement the review’s recommendations.
ACCAN recently announced it would offer $250,000 in the 2012 round of the ACCAN Grants Scheme, which grants funds to projects aimed at delivering affordable communications services for all Australians.
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