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Submission to the Regional Telecommunications Review 2021

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Media Release

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) today published its submission to the Regional Telecommunications Review 2021. The submission highlighted the concerns of telco consumers living outside Australia’s metropolitan centres and provides insight into phone and internet complaint trends.

Each year, the TIO receives around 30,000 phone and internet complaints from consumers living in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia.

The TIO is uniquely placed to share its data and insights on the telco problems experienced by regional rural and remote consumers.

Complaint data shows service reliability, poor service coverage, lack of choice, and weak or damaged network infrastructure remain key concerns for consumers living in regional, rural, and remote Australia.

Consumers in regional, rural, and remote communities rely on telecommunications services to stay connected to family, emergency and support services, work and study from home, and run small businesses.

The consequences of poor service reliability can be greater for regional consumers. Complaints to the TIO show it can take longer to repair a fault and there are fewer alternatives available when the service is out.

Service outages can also have a significant impact on businesses operating in regional Australia.

Many of these businesses rely on telecommunication services to take orders and bookings, for promotion, to order stock, to take or process payments, and for other day-to-day business activities.

Suggested improvements to telco services and infrastructure include:

  • Promoting a wider range of telecommunications services in regional communities through grants and other investment incentives.
  • Standardising mobile coverage information that is provided by telcos and publishing up to date information about what services are available in regional areas.
  • Offering government-subsidised mobile devices that can access both standard mobile networks and satellite networks.
  • Constructing communal connectivity hubs for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities offering voice, SMS, and data access to members of the community.

Read the submission: Submission to the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review

Quote attributable to Ombudsman Judi Jones

“Consumers living in regional communities continue to have reduced access to telecommunications services.

“Regional communities face unique challenges in having a fault repaired or being able to access an alternative service. They also face a greater risk in natural disasters, such as bushfires and floods, where reliable telco services play a critical role in co-ordinating disaster response and recovery.

“Providing better access to information about available services could allow consumers to make more informed decisions, encourage competition, and bridge the telco divide between metropolitan and regional, rural and remote Australia.”

About the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman provides a free and independent dispute resolution service for people and small businesses who have an unresolved complaint about their phone or internet service.

Consumers and small businesses should contact tio.com.au or 1800 062 058.

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9 comments

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  1. Michael Taylor

    A friend in Canberra worked on the switchboard in the Dept of Communication (or whatever it was called 12 years ago), taking complaints against internet providers. On a per capita basis she said that Telstra had the most complaints, followed by Optus.

    I’m not surprised that Telstra was the winner.

    Probably still is.

  2. leefe

    The TIO is one of the few government organisations that actually does its job well.
    I had an ongoing dispute with Telstra (because they cocked up and weren’t willing to admit it). Sent a detailed complaint to TIO and cc’ed Telstra. The next working day Telstra offered to settle. Just the threat of TIO involvement was enough.

    Hope that hasn’t changed.

  3. Michael Taylor

    leefe, I recall reading a few years ago about some bloke who was at loggerheads with Telstra over their lack of action on something or other. He’d phoned them a dozen times with no luck.

    After running out of options he came up with the bright idea of tweeting his complaint. Telstra resolved the matter in record time. 😂

  4. leefe

    And yet they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity …

  5. New England Cocky

    Fed up with being played at ”Telstra Telephone Tag”? My solution on a country landline was to make myself a ”Level 4 Complainant” with my own almost retiring technician to fix the landline every time it fell out. Takes a considerable number of calls as you shuffle up the system, but bluffing the Filipino answering service accelerates the process.

    Before LIttle Johnnie Howard sold off Telstra, a letter to our local feral MP Ian ”Sinkers” Sinclair would resolve the matter and even got one ancient district landline exchange transferred to a line of sight relay service to prevent it crashing every time it rained.

  6. wam

    supply and demand rules can be temporarily modified by a squeaky gate, Leefe, Michael and NEC.
    When will labor realise how effective the rabbott squeaked?

  7. Terence Mills

    We live in a mobile black-spot area so we had our landline reconnected (having previously thought that we would not need it as we had been promised mobile connectivity) .

    When the government some years ago introduced a black-spot eradication campaign – Helen Coonan was the minister responsible so it must go back some fifteen years – we thought that we would be included as our area was on the blackspot map. The trouble was they left it to the telecommunications companies to choose which blackspots they would fix up : they decided not to bother with us !

    We have satellite internet through skymuster and that keeps us connected as long as it doesn’t rain but we have given up on mobiles ; we pick up our text messages and missed calls when we go into town.

  8. Brozza

    All to be expected, of course, after little johnnie war-criminal privatized telstra, now everything is concentrated on metropolitan areas where the profits are and regional areas are given the middle digit. Just like the Lying/NaziParty wants it.
    That’s the corporate way.

  9. Denni

    Comms systems running at less than optimum is one thing, overhauling a comm network with the purpose of removing your right to privacy, is another. The govt is up to tricks, ‘anonymous’ is about to get buried in the name of a “safe, secure and convenient way for Australians to prove their identity online”, as recommended by Zuckerborg:
    https://nexusnewsfeed.com/article/geopolitics/time-running-out-to-comment-on-aus-gov-digital-identity-bill/?cmid=e8fbdd10-f454-467f-b20a-85aa061340e2

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