Editorial

Universal Service in the Spotlight

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Abstract
In the December issue papers cover a range of telecommunications related issues both locally and internationally, including Universal Service, legacy telecommunications equipment and a timely review of the progress of the rollout of Ultra-Fast Broadband in New Zealand. A theme in this issue focuses on Universal Service and provides discussion on what a revised Universal Service should constitute and how this revised Universal Service should be delivered. As the digital transformation of government and community service delivery progresses there is a need to consider how new and upgraded telecommunications infrastructure can be best utilised to provide Universal Service. Another theme in this issue considers how telecommunications and service providers are working to ensure that legacy telecommunications equipment is identified, upgraded where necessary and connected to the National Broadband Network or replaced. Readers will also find an interesting update on the provision of reliable telecommunications to Antarctica and how Ericsson is celebrating the milestone of being a significant contributor to Australian telecommunications over the past 125 years.

In This Issue

In this issue the Journal contains two themes on Universal Service and legacy telecommunications equipment. There are also other papers on a range of topics including how Ericsson is celebrating 125 years in Australia.

Ericsson Celebrates 125 Years in Australia provides a review of the extremely valuable contribution made by Ericsson to the Australian telecommunication industry over the past 125 years. The paper looks back and identifies the key milestones and events that have led to this long and successful relationship between local telecommunication operators and one of the most innovative global telecommunication equipment and system vendors.

Ultra-Fast Broadband in New Zealand: Progress Accelerating highlights the progress being made in New Zealand to rollout a national ultra-fast broadband network primarily based on fibre to the premises. New Zealand’s successful approach to modernising their telecommunications infrastructure is a model that demonstrates what can be achieved with the right approach.

Telecommunications coverage of the Australian Antarctic Territory has been a challenge for more than 100 years and in the past decade the scope and complexity of telecommunications and broadband demand has escalated considerably.  Information and Communication Technology in Antarctica offers readers a brief review of the current state of telecommunications to and within the Australian Antarctic Territory.

The rapidly changing technologies used for modern telecommunications are highlighted in the Internet of Things for Smart Homes and Buildings: Opportunities and Challenges and Software Defined Networking – Shaping up for the next disruptive step?

An industry case study theme on legacy telecommunications equipment provides a focus on why it is important as the National Broadband Network (NBN) is rolled out to either connect, upgrade or replace the legacy systems used on the telecommunications network. Legacy PSTN Applications cause confusion: Disclaimers are no substitute for actual service discusses how reliability of service is an issue moving to the converged broadband networks. Continents to Islands: The Effect of Widespread interconnectivity on Critical Infrastructure and Legacy Systems describes how industrial control systems and other ‘untouchable’ legacy devices have complicated the shift to the NBN. Shall we hook up the old stuff? investigates the risk associated with connecting legacy equipment to modern telecommunication networks and discusses some of the reasons for concern.

A public policy theme on Universal Service focuses on why the provision of Universal Service should be subjected to a Federal government review in 2016 and how Universal Service might be updated to utilise the NBN and wireless technologies including mobile cellular and Wi-Fi. The Universal Service challenge is complicated by several factors including the twenty year contract signed in 2012 for the ongoing provision of the existing Universal Service regime.

The guest theme editor Professor Gerard Goggin introduces the Universal Service theme in It’s Time: Reimaging Universal Service for Digital Life and reinforces the need for a review to bring Universal Service into the 21st century.

Better Telecommunications Services for all Australians highlights the need for Universal Service to be inclusive, affordable and based on the NBN and other wireless network technologies including mobile cellular.

Who are you going to call? The Future of the Universal Service Obligation considers how Universal Service can be provided and proposes two options that are to expand the existing twenty year contract with Telstra or to open up Universal Service provision to all retail service providers and in doing so to look for an affordable, accessible and empowering approach.

From Universal Service to Universal Communications discusses how Universal Service provision could be facilitated by competition between telecommunication companies and retail service providers to bring Universal Service into the 21st century.

Contact-ability framework for the delivery of universal services argues that the Universal Service should be adapted to provide a means for consumers to be contactable utilising whatever technology and service is most appropriate. The framework described is based on four key factors including availability, affordability, accessibility and service standards. To reinforce how the framework would operate in practice there is an additional need for online service delivery and literacy and empowerment.

NetCare: Providing Free or Low-cost Universal Access to Telecommunications and Broadband provides a policy framework for the Federal government provision of universal access to telecommunications and broadband including telephony, government services and the Internet. The paper identifies why in the 21st century government and industry would benefit by providing consumers with universal access to telecommunications and broadband services.

Universal Service

The Coalition government led by the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has recently identified technology and innovation as key areas of interest so it is disconcerting that the government’s promised review of Universal Service did not commence in 2015 and if the review is to be completed before the 2016 Federal election it needs to be commenced early in the new year.

Telecommunications is now an essential service and it is vital for the nation that the government provides every Australian with free or low-cost access over the telecommunication networks to government services and to facilitate participation in the global digital economy.

It is time to shift from a 20th century approach to the provision of telecommunications and the Universal Service to a 21st century approach that fully empowers every Australian by ensuring that access to services offered over telecommunication networks becomes an accepted, free or low-cost part of everyday life.

Looking Forward

In 2016 a student paper prize will be launched with the winner being offered the chance to be join with Telsoc members and key telecommunication industry executives at the Charles Todd Oration held in Sydney annually.

In March the theme will be Block Chain Technologies (e.g. Bitcoin) and how the global finance industry is looking to harness this technology to facilitate cheap secure financial transactions between consumers and suppliers but also in a machine to machine context for financial transactions carried out at an ever increasing speed on the global markets.

Papers are invited for upcoming issues and with your contributions the Journal will continue to provide the readership with exciting and informative papers covering a range of local and international topics. The Editorial Board values input from our readership so please let us know what themes you would like to see in the coming year.

All papers related to telecommunications and the digital economy are welcome and will be considered for publication after a peer-review process.

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Cite this article as: 

Mark Gregory. 2015. Editorial. Australian Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, Vol 3, No 4, Article 39. http://doi.org/10.18080/ajtde.v3n4.39. Published by Telecommunications Association Inc. ABN 34 732 327 053. https://telsoc.org

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