The Government has announced a new Universal Service Guarantee that will ensure all Australians have access to voice and broadband services.
The Universal Service Guarantee (USG) is being developed in response to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the Universal Service Obligation(USO).
The current Universal Service Obligation managed by Telstra is a long-standing safeguard that ensures all Australians have access to a voice-only standard telephone service and payphones. The Productivity Commission’s inquiry found the USO is costly and outdated due to the rapid evolution of technology and changing consumer preferences.
The new USG will provide all Australian homes and businesses, regardless of their location, with access to both voice and broadband services. It will also ensure areas with specific needs have access to payphones or equivalent community voice services, like communities with no mobile phone coverage or in remote Australia.
The USG will leverage the significant investment in the National Broadband Network (NBN), access to which will be underpinned by the Statutory Infrastructure Provider legislation currently before the Commonwealth Parliament, as well as other commercial networks. The Government will also consider the use of targeted measures where warranted.
Our USO Taskforce is currently developing delivery options for the future USG and is consulting with representatives of regional and remote Australia and industry stakeholders.
As part of this work, the Taskforce is examining the feasibility and cost implications of a number of key issues, including:
- Alternative means of providing voice services to premises in nbn’s satellite footprint, recognising that nbn satellites are designed for broadband and not voice services.
- The potential impact on nbn costs and network design if premises currently serviced by Telstra under the USO migrate to NBN infrastructure.
- Where and when it may be appropriate for Telstra to reduce the number of payphones provided under the USO.
The USO Taskforce welcomes the views of stakeholders and interested citizens, and can be contacted by email.
The Taskforce is also considering the extensive public submissions and testimony to the PC’s USO inquiry and the PC’s final inquiry report on the USO.