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Productivity Commission inquiry into Universal Service Obligation

The Turnbull Government has released the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission's inquiry into the telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (USO), which will examine the role and relevance of these arrangements in an evolving market. The USO has long existed as a regulated consumer safeguard providing access to standard telepHon services and paypHons on reasonable request to all Australians. This has supported social and economic participation, including in areas where those services might not otherwise be provided commercially. With recent advances in technology and market structure changes, including the rollout of the National Broadband Network and the rising consumer uptake of broadband data services, demand for current USO services (standard voice services and paypHons) has reduced and continues to decline.

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World-first traffic app to avoid traffic delays

Adelaide drivers will have access to a world-first trial of a new traffic app, which helps drivers to avoid traffic delays caused by road works and congestion. South Australian Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Stephen Mulligan, said the locally-developed app was launched today and it would give drivers voice messages via Bluetooth of any traffic delays ahead on their route. He said the app, AddInsight, is the only app in the world that can warn motorists of what is ahead in real-time, making it more accurate and responsive than other apps, which use location services to identify congestion. See story here: Also, for safer driving tips see: www.keepyoureyesontheroad.org.

NSW raid seizes fake mobile chargers and batteries

NSW Fair Trading raids have seized thousands of illegal electrical items, including fake mobile phone chargers, batteries and cables. NSW Fair Trading Commissioner, Rod Stowe, said this week that non-authentic batteries pose a significant fire risk because of their inferior manufacturing quality. The public needs to be vigilant about their safety and check USB phone chargers for approval marks, he said. Check approval marks at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au Avoid the cheap deal there is a reason it is cheap. Cheap and unapproved electrical products pose a serious health hazard and are a false economy. Before they can be sold, all models of genuine phones and batteries are tested to ensure they are safe for users. They are tested to make sure they meet national and international standards for exposure to radiofrequency emissions. Counterfeit and sub-standard mobile phones, batteries and chargers are not subject to such testing and the safety of fake products cannot be guaranteed.

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New members for ACMA’s Consumer Consultative Forum

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has appointed five new representatives to its Consumer Consultative Forum (CCF). The CCF is a key element in the ACMA s consumer engagement strategy, said acting ACMA Chairman James Cameron. It has been structured to provide an opportunity for consumer representatives to raise issues and suggest solutions with senior representatives of industry, regulators and government policy makers.

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Mobile text safety videos sent to on-the-job tradies

Text video messages are being sent to 8000 construction workers in the ACT to provide tips for on-the-job safety. ACT Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Mick Gentleman, said the first of a series of safety videos that will be sent directly to the mobile phones of local construction workers. Communicating with construction workers about health and safety issues has its challenges given the nature of their work. These short videos, that use local tradies, provide safety tips and regulatory compliance information directly to those in the industry. They will be very useful in toolbox talks that are regularly held on site, Minister Gentleman said. This new and innovative way of reaching local tradies will help to improve their understanding of safe work practices and associated regulatory requirements, Minister Gentleman said. The first video to be issued provides advice on working safely with mobile plants, a common cause of injury and even death on work sites.

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Data downloads on mobiles up by 27 per cent, says ABS

The volume of data downloaded via mobile handsets for the three months increased by 27 per cent over the previous quarter, says the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It says there were 21.3 million mobile handset subscribers in Australia at 31 December 2015. The volume of data downloaded via mobile handsets for the three months to 31 December 2015 was 90,693 Terabytes, which equates to 1.4GB of data downloaded per subscriber per month.

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Spectrum changes designed to remove barriers to innovation

Changes to the spectrum framework are not intended to mandate particular approaches to the use of spectrum, says the Minister for Communications, Senator Mitch Fifield. He told the CommsDay Summit 2016 in Sydney that the Radiocommunications Bill was designed to remove barriers to innovation and encourage industry to manage spectrum in different ways. Submissions to the consultation paper on the Bill are open until April 29, to be followed by additional consultation on a legislation exposure draft. See Minister s speech: http://www.minister.communications.gov.

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Beware if buying second-hand mobiles

Buying second-hand mobiles online or at auctions is risky because they may have been reported lost or stolen and IMEI blocked. You risk losing your money because carriers will only unblock a handset for the original lawful owner who reported it lost and stolen and not a second-hand buyer. If you buy a second-hand mobile despite the risk you should check to see if it has been reported lost or stolen and blocked across all Australian mobile telecommunications networks. The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) provides consumers with a website where they can check to see if a mobile has had its International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) blocked. This is its unique 15-digit serial number, which when blocked prevents users making or receiving calls and text messages on all networks in Australia. This service, which is free to consumers but not businesses, has resulted in a nearly 30 per cent drop in handset blocks in the 12 years since it started in 2003-04.