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Australian group formed to ease 3G to 4G transition concerns
Tue, 2nd Apr 2024

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has welcomed the creation of an industrial working group scheduled to facilitate the smooth transition from 3G to 4G. The group's formation comes courtesy of the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP. This measure has arrived amid concerns surrounding Triple-Zero connectivity, device compatibility, and low public awareness about the approaching shutdown of 3G.

Joining the working group are representatives from the telecommunications titans Telstra, Optus, Vodafone/TPG, and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association. The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts will also partake in discussions, albeit in observer status.

According to ACCAN Acting CEO Dr. Gareth Downing, the establishment of this group by the Minister is a timely and well-thought-out initiative, given the current apprehensions regarding the shutdown. "We are concerned by reports indicating that up to 740,000 older 4G handsets will be unable to call Triple Zero due to their use of legacy 3G networks. These devices will, however, work for regular phone calls on 4G networks, making it unclear to consumers that, in the event of an emergency, they will not be able to call Triple Zero," commented Dr Downing.

Dr Downing insisted that the industry needs to provide consumers with precise information about which devices will work with Triple Zero in the post-3G world. The community needs to know how they can identify which devices will remain functional after the final closure of 3G or if they will be required to upgrade their devices. He declared that if the 3G network is to be discontinued as expected in the forthcoming months, it is crucial the industry collaborates to deliver lucid messages to consumers.

Furthermore, Downing emphasised that immediate measures need to be taken to ensure that owners of devices affected by the shift receive proper notice across different media. According to him, "It is essential that the industry works jointly to deliver clear messages to consumers. Immediate action is needed to ensure that those with affected devices receive appropriate notices across multiple formats."

Dr. Downing concluded, "ACCAN thanks the Minister for convening this working group, and the industry for recognising the need for action. We look forward to supporting the working group in the sharing of key information with the public."