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Consultation on Universal Service Policy



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Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy

Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE SENATE

Media Release

Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate

Consultation on Universal Service Policy

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today released a discussion paper to facilitate stakeholder feedback on implementing the Government’s universal service reforms.

Senator Conroy said it includes reforms to the universal service framework announced on 20 June 2010.

"Stakeholder input is critical on the implementation of the regulatory and funding framework for the delivery of the Universal Service Obligation (USO) and other public interest services, like emergency call handling, when the National Broadband Network (NBN) is rolled out," Senator Conroy said.

"This discussion paper is an important step in implementing significant public policy reforms to ensure a smooth transition to the NBN."

The reforms include establishing a new entity, USO Co, which will commence operations in July 2012. The responsibilities of USO Co will include:

• ensuring all Australians have reasonable access to a standard telephone service • ensuring that payphones are reasonably accessible to all Australians • emergency call handling and the National Relay Service • the migration of voice-only customers to a fibre-based service as Telstra’s copper

exchanges are decommissioned, and • developing technological solutions for continuity of public interest services such as public alarm systems and traffic lights.

"The Government is committed to ensuring continuity of basic universal service outcomes for consumers, with a particular focus on the period of transition onto the NBN.

"It is important for stakeholders to have input on cost effective arrangements that recognise the costs of delivering these services," Senator Conroy said.

Submissions to the discussion paper are due by 3.00 pm EDT 5 November 2010. Copies of the discussion paper are available at www.dbcde.gov.au/usp

Date: 22 October 2010 Contact: Suzie Brady 0408 258 457