Have your say on funding options for universal telecommunications services

The Albanese Government is seeking feedback on the best way to deliver efficient, sustainable funding for Australia’s universal service telco safety net, with a new discussion paper released today.
The Universal Service Obligation (USO) is a longstanding telecommunications safeguard that ensures all Australians can access fixed phone services and payphones, regardless of where they live. This is complemented by the Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) regime that ensures that broadband services can be accessed at every premises.
These universal services are currently funded through an $100 million annual contribution from the Commonwealth, the Regional Broadband Scheme (RBS) for internet provided over NBN Fixed Wireless and satellite, and the Telecommunications Industry Levy (TIL), which support voice services like payphones, Triple Zero and the National Relay Service.
The new consultation responds to concerns raised by stakeholders and industry about both the RBS and TIL, including that two different but related industry-based funding mechanisms exist in parallel.
The discussion paper released today seeks stakeholder feedback specifically as part of a review of the operation of the RBS, with input helping to inform Government decision-making with respect to effective future funding mechanisms.
This work is complementary to the Government’s broader consideration of how best to modernise the USO to ensure it continues to meet the needs of regional communities – now and into the future.
The Government has yet to make a decision on how best to modernise the USO, and feedback received from communities, industry and interested parties is helping to inform next steps.
In order to provide better data to support consideration of universal services reform, NBN Co and Telstra have provided detailed geographic information on the distribution of their services across Australia.
A map has been created that will allow users to gain a good understanding of USO services in their area, along with NBN Co’s platforms and mobile coverage.
Consultation on funding of universal telecommunications services closes at 5pm on Tuesday 14 May 2024.
To have your say and access the newly available mapping data, visit: www.infrastructure.gov.au/media-communications-arts/modernising-universal-telecommunications-services

 Quotes attributable to Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:
“The Albanese Government is committed to modernising our telco safety net in the interests of rural and regional Australians.
“We want to do this in partnership with communities and industry to examine how future arrangements can be more effective.
“Universal services arrangements are here to stay, but it’s critical that we consider how we can ensure sustainable funding arrangements into the future.
“This is an opportunity for regional Australians, industry, and stakeholders to have their say and I encourage them to get their submission in before consultation closes.”