The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (the Department) is proposing to contract organisations to trial alternative ways to deliver voice services in rural and remote areas of Australia, and particularly those areas serviced by Telstra's high capacity radio concentrator (HCRC) networks.
The objective of the trials is to identify new ways to deliver voice services, including by new providers, and assess their effectiveness, given concerns about existing voice solutions and the potential for alternative technologies to provide better services and functionality.
The trials were announced as part of the Government's response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review and reflect particular concerns about the performance and longevity of HCRC networks.
The trials are also relevant to the Government's commitment to explore with industry and the community better ways to deliver the Universal Service Guarantee (USG) for telecommunications over time. The trials should provide insights into better ways to deliver the USG.
The Department is interested in maximising competition under the program and to trial a range of alternative voice technologies and providers.
On 20 December 2019, Minister Fletcher issued a draft design for the trials. These guidelines take account of the comments that were received in submissions on the draft design.
Interested parties are encouraged to have their say on the draft guidelines by Tuesday 2 June 2020, 5pm (AEST). The Government will consider feedback on the draft guidelines with the aim of issuing the final guidelines and further details about program timing as soon as possible.