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Good news for untimed local call tender and universal regime.

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SENATOR THE HON IAN CAMPBELL Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Manager of Government Business in the Senate

Media Release

Good News for Untimed Local Call Tender and Universal Service Regime Untimed local calls for people in remote areas of Australia came one step closer with the passing of legislation last night in the Federal Parliament.

'The legislation is an important element towards the implementation of competitive tendering of the $150 million allocated for untimed local calls in extended zones in remote Australia, made possible by the proceeds of the second partial sale of Telstra,' said Senator Campbell, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.

'People living in regional Australia will be the real winners from this competitive tender process-customers will enjoy untimed local calls within each extended zone, calls to their community service town at a new 'preferential rate' of 25 cents per 12 minutes, and untimed call access to the Internet.

'Tenderers will also be encouraged to offer other benefits which could include improved Internet access speeds, additional services such as television, lower prices, and improved quality of service.

'As a result of the amendments passed last night, the successful tenderer will become the Universal Service Provider for the extended zones.

'As the Universal Service Provider, the successful tenderer will be obliged to provide everyone within the extended zones with access to the standard telephone service and to also provide payphones. They will be subject to strict contractual obligations as well as the full range of legislative obligations currently placed on Telstra, including adherence to requirements of the Customer Service Guarantee.'

'The passage of the Bill will also enable carriage service providers, as well as carriers, to become digital data service providers-this will promote competition in the supply of services

under the digital data service obligation giving consumers greater choice and potential savings.'

The amendments were contained in the Telecommunications (Customer Protection and Service Standards) Amendment Bill (No.1) 2000.

Media contact: Georgia-Kate Schubert, Senator Campbell's office 0419 265 234 website: 30 June 2000

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