Independent Senator Rex Patrick has called on both the government and the opposition to amend laws governing telecommunications in Australia and make mobile coverage part of the universal service obligation.
The Telstra Corporation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021, has passed, guaranteeing that important consumer outcomes continue to be delivered regardless of how Telstra structures itself, both now and in the future through a flexible regulatory framework, the Government contends.
Australia's second biggest telco, Singtel Optus, says Wednesday's announcement by the Federal Government about arrangements for the Universal Service Obligation being retained as such does not reflect "real changes in policy, market and technological realities".
The Federal Government has decided that the Universal Service Guarantee will continue to use the existing arrangements for delivering its Universal Service Obligation. Telstra copper and wireless networks will be used in rural and remote Australia for the provision of voice services in NBN fixed wireless and satellite areas.
Vodafone has called on Australia's federal government to act "following yet another damning USO report".
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) says "there is a lack of clear evidence that a net public benefit has been realised as a direct result of the introduction of the [Telstra USO Performance Agreement] TUSOPA".
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) wants the Universal Service Obligation governing the telecommunications industry expanded to guarantee data services, not just the supply of standard telephone services guaranteed in the existing USO.
With the election over and the Turnbull government turning its attention to policy, Internet Australia has renewed its call for the telecommunications Universal Service Obligation to be expanded to include a right to Internet access via fast and affordable broadband – and for government, not industry, to foot the bill to ensure Internet access is available to everyone.
The Government has imposed penalties of up to almost $1m on telcos for failing to meet the standards of performance set by the retail customer service guarantee and the Universal Service Obligation (which will apply only to Telstra at present).
Communications minister, senator Stephen Conroy, has released a draft ministerial determination that sets limits to where a standard telephone service must be provided under the universal service obligation.
Communications minister, senator Stephen Conroy, has released a discussion paper on proposals for the Universal Service Obligation reforms that will be needed if the agreement with Telstra over its role in the NBN is consummated.
In an apparent shift from its pre-election position, the federal Opposition says it is generally supportive of proposed telecommunications regulatory reform, and has flatly rejected accusations that it is trying to block progress toward improved broadband services.
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