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Minister Communications, Information Technology and the Arts

Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate






‘A digital data service is now availab le on demand to all Australians as a result of Government enhancements to the telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (USO),’ the Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston, announced today.


‘The initiative was a Coalition election commitment and is particularly good news for regional Australians, who had not previously been guaranteed access to high speed digital data services.


‘Telstra is already required to provide on demand to at least 96% of the population a two-way data transmission service, broadly comparable to 64 kilobits per second (kbps). This is called the General Digital Data Service and will be supplied by Telstra’s basic ISDN service.


‘Telstra will now also be required to provide on demand a digital data service broadly comparable to a one-way transmission speed of 64 kbps to those end-users unable to receive Telstra’s ISDN service.


‘This service is called the Special Digital Data Service, and will ensure that the remaining four percent of Australians, who generally live in regional, rural and remote areas, will still be able to access a high speed data service.


‘The Government has also fulfilled its election promise by incorporating a rebate scheme into the Special Digital Data Service. This scheme will allow consumers to be reimbursed up to $765 for equipment necessary to access the service.


‘This effectively means that people who have previously been unable to access ISDN services can now access Special Digital Data Services delivering data download transmissions comparable with a 64 kbps data transmission speed to the end user, and in addition, will be able to obtain a substantial rebate towards the cost of the equipment.


‘The Government will encourage other carriers to become general or special digital data service providers when they are in a position to offer these digital data services after 1 July next year.


‘The introduction of new service providers, along with the extension of the USO to include data capabilities as well the standard telephone service, is consistent with the Government’s commitment to review USO arrangements in an increasingly complex service environment.


‘The USO will continue to ensure that all Australians receive a standard telephone service and payphone services regardless of where they live.’


Media contact:   Terry O’Connor, 02 6277 7480

website: www.richardalston. au



28 October 1999



att  1999-10-29  11:45