A major report into telecommunications affordability launched jointly by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) was launched yesterday.
The report highlights concerns about low-income consumers in staying connected to telecommunications services.
The report, Connectivity Costs: Telecommunications Affordability for Low-Income Australians, which was based on a survey of over 500 Centrelink recipients and low-income Health Care Card holders, as well as a series of focus groups, found that:
- 66% of respondents rated telecommunications among the five most important factors in their household budget; but
- 62% reported difficulty paying, having to cut back or that they had stopped using one or more telecommunications services for financial reasons in the last 12 months.
SACOSS CEO, Ross Womersley said, “Overall, the report tells us that people are struggling to afford communications essential for seeking employment, to access Government services and for study. Those on low incomes are often paying more for services than other customers, the income support they receive is not adequate to ensure they stay connected, and many of the available products and plans on the market are not suitable for those on low incomes. Governments and telecommunications companies all need to act to address the needs of low income consumers.