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Tendering of the universal service obligation.

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Media Release



Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts

Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate




The Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston, today invited telecommunications carriers to express interest in tendering for universal service obligations.


The announcement, and the release of a public consultation paper, starts the process of putting the SU out to tender.


Senator Alston said that the tendering process would not, in any way, threaten the continued existence of the Universal Service Obligation (SU) which ensures that all Australians, no matter where they live or work, have access at a reasonable cost to a standard telephone service and to payphones.


‘All telecommunications carriers are required by law to contribute to any losses incurred in delivering these services across the country. However, Telstra is currently the only carrier responsible for delivering the USO,’ Senator Alston said.


‘The Government believes that other telecommunications carriers may be able to deliver a more competitive and efficient USO, for example, by using satellite or wireless local loop technologies.


‘The benefits of this approach could include more innovative services to regional, rural and remote Australia, improvements in service standards, and the introduction of new carriers and possibly new infrastructure with a resultant increase in price and service competition.


‘The tendering of the USO is in addition to the Government’s election commitment to provide a digital data service in the USO.’


Senator Alston urged interested community, industry and government individuals and groups to consider the issues raised in the public consultation paper.


The consultation paper and other documentation may be obtained from the What’s New section of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts website or by contacting the Infrastructure Policy Section on 02 6271 1839. The closing date for comments and expressions of interest is 28 May 1999.


Media contact: Terry O’Connor, Minister’s office 02 6277 7480



6 April 1999