Internet and mobile services have become an essential service. Whether we are a recipient of government benefits, living in a remote community, a retired pensioner or family with kids, having access to internet services has become an integral part of life.
A number of consumer groups are calling on the federal government to improve industry regulation and bring it in line with other essential services such as energy and water. Coinciding with a review of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code, a media release from consumer advocates highlights concerns with the Code and the need to strengthen consumer protections.
Legal services have reported an increase in disputes about telcos selling multiple, unaffordable and inappropriate contracts to disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Community members, said Gerard Brody from Consumers Federation Australia, “cannot pay bills, get important information, or remain socially connected without access to working telco services. Yet regulation of this vital industry is in the dark ages when it comes to establishing and enforcing the social obligations of service providers.”
The consumer groups want Australia to follow Canada’s lead which declared broadband internet a basic telecommunications service last year.