Better delivery of universal services

We are seeking stakeholder views on ways to better deliver baseline universal telecommunications services.

Why we want your input

The Australian Government is examining universal service arrangements in light of changes in available technologies and consumer preferences over recent years. We are seeking views on the key outcomes that a modern universal service framework should deliver.

How you can voice your opinion

Stakeholders and interested individuals are welcome to provide input by 5pm, Friday 1 March 2024. Submissions can be emailed to usb@infrastructure.gov.au or uploaded using the ‘Have your say now’ button below.

The Department is also interested in meeting stakeholders throughout the consultation process to better understand their views. Please contact us at the email above if you would like to arrange a time to talk about the process or provide your views

What will be the outcome of this consultation?

Your feedback will inform future approaches that deliver robust and reliable voice services, with further stages of consultation planned for 2024.

The Issue

The Australian Government has an existing framework in place to provide people across Australia with access to baseline fixed voice and broadband services.

The Universal Service Obligation (USO) is a longstanding safeguard that ensures all Australians are able to access fixed phone services and payphones regardless of where they live or work. As the statutory primary universal provider, Telstra is required to supply fixed voice services and payphones nationally on reasonable request. Telstra provides the majority of USO services over the National Broadband Network (NBN), however it continues to deliver USO services over copper and other networks in regional and remote areas.

Access to fixed broadband is supported by the Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) regime, which provides that NBN Co and other similar providers connect premises to their networks and supply wholesale services that allow retail providers to provide broadband services with peak download and upload speeds of at least 25/5 megabits per second (Mbps).

The Australian Government is examining universal service arrangements in light of changes in available technologies and consumer preferences over recent years. By the end of 2024, more than 97% of Australian premises will have access to high-speed NBN broadband services that can support quality voice services. The deployment of satellites and other technologies also shows promise for providing greater options for voice services in the most remote areas of Australia.

A key principle for Government is that any change to existing arrangements will only be considered if there are tested and proven alternatives to existing technologies and services.

We are initially interested in hearing from stakeholders about the sorts of outcomes that a modern universal service framework should deliver. To provide time for all stakeholders to have their say, there will be further stages of consultation in 2024, including to seek views on the sustainable, long-term funding of services in rural and remote areas.

The discussion paper below provides relevant background and key questions to assist in making a submission or providing feedback.

As noted in the discussion paper, trials of voice services will be undertaken in 2024. The department published a Request for Tender (RFT) on 9 February 2024 to seek a provider to undertake technical trials to consider the performance of potential alternative services. Tenders are due by 2.00pm (local ACT time) on 6 March 2024.

Relevant documentation

Participate

30 Oct 2023 07:00 AEDT
01 Mar 2024 17:00 AEDT
Open
days remaining 7 of 123

We invite you to to tell us your views on this topic.

Please include:

  • contact name
  • organisation name, if applicable
  • contact details, including telephone number, postal and email addresses
  • confirmation whether or not your submission can be made public—published—or kept confidential.

All submissions to be made public need to meet the Digital Service Standard for accessibility. Any submission that does not meet this standard may be modified before being made public.

If your submission is to be made public, please ensure you do not include any personal information that you don't want to be published.

If your submission is confidential, please ensure each page of the submission is marked as confidential.

Please click on the 'Have your say now' button below to upload your submission.

* denotes a required field.
Step 1: Your submission
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Please select if you prefer your submission to remain anonymous. This means your submission will display on the website with the name Anonymous and your name and/or organisation will not appear anywhere on the website.
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Step 2: Contact details
Please enter an Australian landline or mobile phone number including area code.
e.g: 07 1234 5678 or 041 1234 567
Publication, Confidentiality and Privacy of Submissions Instructions
We may use your details to contact you regarding your submission and we will never share any of your contact details or make your email, or phone number public abiding by our Privacy Policy.

Alternatively please email your completed template submission to usb@infrastructure.gov.au.

Australian Privacy Principle 5 Notice

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts (the department) is collecting information as part of this consultation in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988.

The department will use this information to inform consideration of issues associated with the delivery of universal services and will store this information securely. It may be used by the department to make further contact with you about the consultation process.

The department will not disclose information to third parties, except in the circumstances outlined below.

Submissions, in part or full, including the name of the author may be published on the department's website unless the submission is confidential. Confidential submissions (including the author's name) will not be published. Private addresses and contact details will not be published or disclosed to any third parties unless required by law.

Submissions will only be treated as confidential if they are expressly stated to be confidential. Automatically generated confidentiality statements or disclaimers appended to an email do not suffice for this purpose. If you wish you make a confidential submission, you should indicate this by ensuring your submission is clearly marked as confidential.

Confidential submissions will be kept securely and will only be disclosed in the following circumstances:

  • in response to a request by a Commonwealth Minister
  • where required by a House or a Committee of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia,
  • where required by law.

The Department may also disclose confidential submissions within the Commonwealth of Australia, including with other Commonwealth agencies, where necessary in the public interest.

Please note that in order to protect the personal privacy of individuals in accordance with the Privacy Act any submissions containing sensitive information, personal information or information which may reasonably be used to identify a person or group of people may not be published, even if not marked as confidential.

The department's privacy policy contains information regarding complaint handling processes and how to access and/or seek correction of personal information held by the department. The Privacy Officer can be contacted on 02 6274 6495 or by email: privacy@infrastructure.gov.au.