Thursday, 19 May 2016 19:30

IA wants telco USO regs changed to include consumer rights to data access

Internet Australia CEO Laurie Patton Internet Australia CEO Laurie Patton

The head of Internet Australia wants the telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (USO) to be extended to include the right to data access and has called on the Australian Government to change the USO legislation covering broadband services.

IA chief executive Laurie Patton's call for Australia to extend the USO obligations to include data access follows a decision by the UK Government – announced by the Queen at Wednesday’s opening of the British Parliament - to introduce legislation designed to create the right for every household to access high speed broadband, which he consider “an essential service”.

Patton — who on Thursday met the Productivity Commission that is currently holding an inquiry into the USO — told the commission that in the 21st century broadband had become an “essential service and it is therefore appropriate for the USO to include the right to data access”.

“The delivery of government services is increasingly being moved online. Likewise, private sector organisations are encouraging their customers to communicate with them via the Internet. Health services and education are also being delivered online. Anyone without broadband access is likely to be left behind as this trend continues,” Patton claimed.

{loadpositon peter}He urged the Australian government and the opposition to follow Britain’s lead. “We keep hearing about the need to become an innovation nation. This will clearly require the provision of nationwide broadband access. What’s more, we need to ensure that we do not create a society of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ – and that means making access to data available to everyone. The best way to ensure this is to add data to the requirements under the Universal Service Obligation.”

Referring to the National Year of Digital Inclusion this year, Patton said, “What better time to acknowledge that we have moved on from relying solely on the telephone. Many people with disabilities, people in remote places, are often better able to communicate via the Internet than over the phone. In some cases, the Internet is their only option.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).



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