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Public submissions invited for the Universal Service Obligation review.

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Senator the Hon Helen Coonan Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate

Media Release

Media Contact: Katherine Meier 0417 441 141

110/07 Wednesday 15 August 2007

Public Submissions invited for the Universal Service Obligation Review

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator the Hon Helen Coonan, today called for public submissions as part of a review of the telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (USO).

“The USO is a key safeguard for consumers ensuring that all Australians, including people in rural and remote Australia, have access to essential telephone services and payphones.

“The review provides an opportunity for consumers to have a say on the effectiveness of the USO arrangements. It also gives telecommunications providers the opportunity to provide input on how the requirements of meeting the USO can be shared equitably.

Senator Coonan said the telecommunications market has evolved significantly since the USO was first introduced.

“For instance, the provision of phone services in new housing estates or ‘Greenfields’ sites, has been of interest to both consumers and industry.

“The review has a broad focus, and seeks innovative ideas and approaches for the delivery of USO services.

Senator Coonan said as the Howard Government called for submissions to the USO review it was important to emphasise that the Australian Government will not be rolling back the essential consumer protections provided by the USO.

“Safeguards such as access to emergency services and untimed local calls are not negotiable and will not be removed.

“Tomorrow, the Communications Alliance will be holding a forum to discuss the USO. I commend the Communications Alliance for hosting a discussion that will inform stakeholders’ contributions to the wider USO Review,” Senator Coonan said.

The closing date for submissions in response to the issues paper is 1 November 2007.

A copy of the USO Review issues paper and information on how to make submissions is available at