The thumbs up for the USO comes after the federal government announced a programme of work to implement a new Universal Service Guarantee, with the USO designed to ensure all Australians have access to voice and broadband services, regardless of where they live.
ACCAN says it welcomes the government’s response to the Productivity Commission report into the existing USO, and is pleased that the response acknowledges that existing arrangements are out of date and in need of reform.
“We welcome the government’s commitment to provide universal access to voice and broadband services through a new USG once the NBN rollout is complete,” ACCAN chief executive Teresa Corbin said.
“We look forward to working with the government on this in 2018 and beyond.”
Corbin said ACCAN would work to ensure the new USG addressed the need for assurances that any new service delivery arrangements will take account of:
• The costs that may be borne by consumers themselves (for example, upfront equipment changes required or ongoing costs to use the proposed alternative voice services);
• The quality of voice services delivered by alternate technologies, which must be capable of supporting any to any voice calls;
• The reliability of services in terms of expected and acceptable levels of outages and repair timeframes; and
• Fall back services in case one network is out, particularly for remote areas where there are no close neighbours, that are more vulnerable to adverse weather conditions and service disruption.
Also welcoming the plans for an USO, Andrew Sheridan, Optus’ vice-president of Regulatory and Public Affairs, said the company recognised the importance of a safeguard that ensures all Australians have access to voice and broadband services, regardless of where they live.
“However, as today’s announcement recognises there is a clear opportunity to develop a more targeted scheme that is better suited to today’s dynamic digital environment,” Sheridan said.
He said Optus would continue to invest in regional infrastructure and provide commercial solutions that will “meet the needs of the vast majority of Australian consumers”.
“We also look forward to working with government on a modern USG that can better meet consumer needs where commercial solutions are not available.”