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Consumer Awareness Research Results

The ACA announced today the findings of a wide-ranging consumer survey designed to gauge awareness of the competitive telecommunications environment and consumers' information needs. The results of the research will drive future information campaigns over the coming year.

The research, which comprised a survey of 300 small business and 1200 residential respondents throughout Australia, was undertaken as part of the ACA's ongoing commitment to contribute to an informed community.

With just over two years since the introduction of increased competition, the results of the research show encouraging awareness levels across a range of issues. These include awareness of:

choice in both local and long distance call providers; calling number display; consumer safeguards such as the universal service obligation and the Customer Service Guarantee; and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

Conversely, the results show that consumers do not have sufficient appreciation of a range of issues, including:

different ways of accessing mobile phones (such as prepaid SIM cards), other than through long term contracts); that it is not only telephone companies who can cable inside customer premises; that emergency service organisations cannot identify the location of a mobile phone caller (unlike calls made from a fixed phone); that extra phone services may be available when subscribing to pay TV; and that not all Internet access is provided for the cost of a local call.

Given almost universal awareness of open competition, the results indicated there was still some lack of knowledge about how to fully benefit from the recent changes. For example, the research showed that nearly half of the small business respondents saw the outcomes of competition as positive for them. The other half stated that it had made no difference, with the reasons for this including either that they were satisfied with their current provider or there had been no reduction in charges..

ACA Member, Esther Alter said "The ACA has a role here in ensuring consumers better understand the changes in the telecommunications environment in order to make the most of the available opportunities such as the Customer Service Guarantee.

This research has identified the type of information sought by consumers on a range of telecommunications matters and will help the ACA to better target the information and how it should be provided."

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