The USO ensures access to voice communication services for all Australians. The obligation has changed very little in comparison to the telecommunications market and consumers’ use of services. This presents a number of gaps and risks for consumers, such as data and mobile services. However, updating the obligation to include these services alone will likely fail consumers. This paper argues for a new framework based on a principle of contactability. This new framework will have four key areas: availability, affordability, accessibility and service standards. A further two areas; online service delivery and literacy and empowerment, are also needed to fully ensure contactability is achieved.
The Universal Service Obligation (USO) scheme in Australia today is 25 years old. This paper shows how the current USO entrenches an annual subsidy of some $300M to Telstra. The current expensive USO scheme is inadequate and in the light of modern developments in broadband and mobile. The paper reviews the approach taken to across the world and draws lessons for a way forward to establish a Universal Service Fund (USF) where the NBN is the Universal Infrastructure wholesale provider with alternative retailers. The paper supports five practical interrelated recommendations as well as reimagining future payphones around public WiFi and rural community innovation.
This paper presents a position and identifies future research necessary to support the transition from the universal service regime to a universal access regime that enshrines the principle of ensuring that federal, state and local egovernment and other specified digital services are reasonably accessible to all, on an equitable basis, wherever they work or live.
This paper draws upon a research paper prepared for the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN). The focus of this paper is on the best way to provide every adult with universally available, accessible, affordable and empowering communications. Special attention is given to affordability, leading to a litmus test of an affordable broadband tariff. The paper proposes two options for delivering universal service objectives in future. One does not require any carrier to be nominated as the universal retail service provider. The other extends Telstra’s current obligations.
Papers cover Universal Service, legacy telecommunications equipment the rollout of Ultra-Fast Broadband in New Zealand. How to ensure that legacy telecommunications equipment is identified, upgraded and connected to the National Broadband Network or replaced. An 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.
This article provides a brief introduction to a timely set of papers critically discussing universal service in telecommunications and proposing policy option. This is a longstanding public policy issue, moving once more into the foreground in Australia. The article puts the papers into context, and argues for the need to reconnect universal service policy with fertile and productive research, policy, social and technology innovation in other areas. Finally, the paper argues for the urgent need to fundamentally reimagine universal service to achieve the still relevant goal of access for all to essential communications technology.
The National Broadband Network is a focus of the June 2016 issue with four papers providing an insight into the nation’s largest infrastructure project. A historical paper on vibration measurement highlights how times have changed as the telecommunications networks evolve The Government’s review of the Universal Service Obligation has commenced with the Productivity Commission being tasked to inquire into how the universal service obligation might be updated to meet current and future needs.