Review of rules about reasonable requests for Universal Standard Obligation standard telephone services

Have your say on the rules for requests for standard telephone services under the Universal Service Obligation (USO), and the circumstances when it may not be reasonable to fulfil such requests.

Why we want your input

We want to know your views on the need to continue the existing rules, what changes may be needed or if there are alternative approaches.

How you can voice your opinion

You can review the draft rules and draft explanatory statement below and make a written submission.

What will be the outcome of this consultation?

Your input will help inform Government decisions about the future of rules for reasonable requests for standard telephone services under the USO.

The Issue

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The USO is a longstanding consumer protection that provides Australians with reasonable access to fixed telephone and payphone services as set out in the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999. Telstra is the national USO provider.

TheTelecommunications Universal Service Obligation (Standard Telephone Service—Requirements and Circumstances) Determination (No. 1) 2011 has been in place since 2011. It sets out requirements for a valid request for a USO standard telephone service and limited circumstances where it is not considered reasonable for Telstra as the USO provider to provide a standard telephone service.

This instrument is due to end on 1 April 2023.

The Government is considering remaking the 2011 Determination with some updates.

A draft replacement determination and draft explanatory statement are provided below for comment. The department welcomes comments in written submissions from interested people. Submitters are asked to provide comments on:

  • the need for such an instrument
  • the proposed wording and structure of the draft instrument
  • whether a future instrument should be subject to the default sunsetting period provided for under the Legislation Act 2003 (10 years) or a different period, and why?
  • whether an alternative approach would be preferable, and if so, why?

A possible alternative approach could be based on the Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) regime for broadband. This is set out in the Telecommunications (Statutory Infrastructure Providers—Circumstances for Exceptions to Connection and Supply Obligations) Determination 2021. This approach is more streamlined but would need to be adapted for USO purposes. For example, the USO is a retail obligation while the SIP obligations are wholesale.

If you have questions, comments or feedback on this consultation process, please email us at

Relevant documentation

If you wish to make a confidential submission, please ensure your submission is clearly labelled as 'confidential' and ensure all confidential material provided within the submission is highlighted or otherwise clearly identified. Submitters may also wish to prepare both public and confidential versions of their submission. Submissions can be uploaded or emailed to by 11.59 pm on Friday 13 January 2023. The consultation period has been set recognising stakeholders may have more limited staff availability in December and over the Christmas/New Year period. It is open to stakeholders if they prefer to make a submission in advance of the closing date. The Department will review submissions as they are received, including if earlier submissions are received.

Please note this consultation is not seeking views on current state and future of the USO arrangements more broadly. Rather, the process is seeking views on rules for requests for USO voice services and their fulfilment as set out in the determination.


Following this consultation, the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP, made the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (Standard Telephone Service—Requirements and Circumstances) Determination 2023.


21 Nov 2022 11:37 AEDT
13 Jan 2023 11:37 AEDT
This consultation is closed.