December 2014 - Community Consultation Guide Released

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), the peak body representing communications consumers in Australia, has launched its Community Consultation Guide, which is designed to help communities address issues with mobile coverage in their areas.

Mobile coverage is a key issue for consumers, particularly those in regional, rural and remote Australia. Achieving improvements in mobile coverage is a priority focus of ACCAN's work. Earlier this month, we welcomed the release of the guidelines for the Federal Government's Mobile Black Spot Programme, but know that even with the improvements the Programme will deliver, demand for improved network coverage will far outstrip supply.

"Poor mobile coverage is a major concern raised with us by consumers, so we have identified a need for a practical self-help toolkit to support communities in improving coverage in their areas. The Community Consultation Guide is designed to assist these communities," said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin. "The Guide sets out steps for active community members to follow in developing a business case for co-investment with telecommunications network providers."

The guidelines for the Mobile Black Spot Programme state that $20 million of the Federal Government's $100 million funding will be reserved for the construction of Funded Base Stations which address specific local issues and have a co-contribution from State, Territory or local governments, local communities or other contributing parties.

ACCAN's Community Consultation Guide will help communities understand what mobile network operators and other organisations look for when weighing up where to invest. It sets out steps on how to identify poor coverage, how to define the extent of the problem and finally, how to compile and present the information and then get in touch with the relevant organisations that may be able to help with investments.

"The Mobile Black Spot Programme is a positive step in addressing mobile coverage issues in regional, rural and remote Australia. The Guide will be useful to communities who want to put forward a business case to improve mobile coverage in their community, not just for the Programme, but also to telcos and other organisations," added Ms. Corbin.

The Guide was developed in consultation with industry specialists and community groups, as well as the mobile network operators – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.

For more information, please contact Luke Sutton on 0409 966 931 or luke.sutton@accan.org.au.

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