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Productivity Commission recommends winding up telecommunications USO

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Member for the Agricultural Region and Commerce spokesperson Hon Martin Aldridge MLC said has welcomed recommendations by the Productivity Commission to wind up the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (TUSO).

Mr Aldridge said if implemented, the recommendation could deliver a guaranteed baseline service for both voice and data for the first time.
After giving evidence to the inquiry, Mr Aldridge said the Commission’s recommendation to shutdown of the copper fixed line service, only once NBN infrastructure was fully deployed and baseline service guarantees were in place for both voice and data services, was a positive outcome.
The TUSOO was established to ensure all Australians have access to landline voice services, which was key to effective communication in regional and remote Australia where mobile services are not available.
Mr Aldridge said reliance on fixed line services had become outdated with more than 2 million services terminated in the last decade alone, which equated to a 25 per cent reduction in the network.
“It is incumbent on Government to ensure voice and data service are not inferior to current standards, which largely consists of the fixed line copper network and ADSL broadband,” Mr Aldridge said.
Mr Aldridge cautioned against rushing the abandonment of the TUSO and fixed line copper network until such time as the NBN fully deploys and service levels are assessed.
Furthermore, Mr Aldridge was pleased the report recommended the Commonwealth provide baseline voice and data services to all Australians which does not occur at present.
“The Commission has considered my recommendation to ensure regional Western Australians are able to access essential telecommunication services and rely upon them with minimum standards of service delivery,” Mr Aldridge said.
Mr Aldridge said the Commission proposed a funding program for some forms of community telecommunications - which could include payphones, mobile charging stations, and public WiFi - to replace the payphone USO.
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