This article reviews recent developments in several countries and regions (including Australia, Africa, the EU and North America), that aim to provide free or low-cost access to modern telecommunication services, especially through community wireless networks (CWNs) such as guifi.net. From Do-It-Yourself satellites to open-source GSM, these projects offer non-commercial alternatives to present telecommunications services.
The National Broadband Network (NBN) has the potential to transform economic and social relations. But realising that potential requires universal take-up and significant utilisation of the NBN. This paper examines how NBN wholesale pricing can help to do this. It introduces a mark-up concept to build a bridge between wholesale and retail prices, provides a yard-stick for how we might define affordable retail pricing and suggests how an entry level wholesale price can be specified to deliver that and enable low income customers to access the NBN.
The results of ACCAN’s 2013 Affordability Forum are provided. A joint ACCAN-Anglicare Victoria research project shows that 6% of Anglicare’s clients in Victoria were deprived of all forms of telecommunications and 45% had only had one form of telecommunication service. A range of affordability policy ideas outlined at the forum are dkiscussed, with an emphasis on reforming the universal service obligation in the era of the national broadband network.