Who are you going to call? The future of the Universal Service Obligation

Main Article Content

John De Ridder


Telecommunications, Universal Service,


This paper draws upon a research paper prepared for the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network. The focus of this paper is on the best way to provide every adult with universally available, accessible, affordable and empowering communications. Special attention is given affordability leading to a litmus test of an affordable broadband tariff. The paper proposes two options for delivering universal service objectives in future. One does not require any carrier to be nominated as the universal retail service provider. The other extends Telstra’s current obligations.


Download data is not yet available.
Abstract 550 | PDF Downloads 8


ACCC (2015) Changes in the prices paid for telecommunications services in Australia 2013-14 http://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/906_ACCC%20Telecommunications%20reports%202013%E2%80%9314_web_2-June-2015.pdf

ACCC (2015) Draft FAD, Fixed line Services Review, http://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/ACCC%20FSR%20FAD%20Further%20Draft%20Decision%20-%20Public%20Version_1_0.pdf

ACMA (2015) Australians get mobile

ACMA (2015) The Aussie VoIP evolution

ACMA (2013) Connected Citizens: A regulatory strategy for the networked society and information economy.

Australian Government, Department of Communications (2013) Broadband Availability and Quality Report

Australian Government Regional Telecommunications Review, Consultation (2015)

Australian Government Statement of Expectations (2014)

Corbin, Teresa (2015) The Future of the USO in a Multi Technology Environment; talk to Comms Day 20th April 2015

Coutts, Reg (2015) Better telecommunications services for all Australians: Rethinking the USO

De Ridder, J. (2015) Submission to the Bureau of Communications Research, NBN Funding Options Consultation Paper

De Ridder, J.; James R. (2014) Affordable retail pricing on the NBN. Australian Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, Vol 1, No 1, Article 5.

Eardsley, A. (2009). Telecommunications and Community Wellbeing: A review of the literature on access and affordability for low-income and disadvantaged groups. Final report for the Telstra Low Income Measures Assessment Committee (LIMAC). Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre and Journalism and Media Research Centre, University of New South Wales.

Claudio Feijoo; Claire Milne, (2008),"Re-thinking universal service policy for the digital era: setting the scene – an introduction to the special issue on universal service", info, Vol. 10 Iss 5/6 pp. 4 - 11

EC (2005), On the Review of the Scope of Universal Service in Accordance with Article 15 of Directive, 2002/22/EC, COM(2005) 203, May, European Commission, Brussels.

Goggin, Gerard (2010) for ACCAN, Realising Universal Communications

Hawkins, W.; Pavlidis, K. (2015) Affordability and 21st century telecommunications services, ADJTE, Vol.3 No. 2

Humphry, J. (2014) Homeless and Connected: Mobile phones and the Internet in the lives of homeless Australians, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Sydney.

Lewin, D; Milne, C. (2010) Are telecommunications services universally affordable across the EU? An independent assessment for Vodafone

Liberal Party of Australia (2013) ‘The Coalition’s Plan for E-Government and the Digital Economy’,

McKinsey; KPMG (2010) NBN Implementation Study

Morsillo, R, (2012) “Broadband affordability in Australia: Looking beyond availability”, in Telecommunications Journal of Australia, Vol. 62, Number 5

Morsillo, R. (2008) Indigenous culture and communications, in Telecommunications Journal of Australia, Vol.58 No. 1

Ofcom (2014) Results of research into consumer views on the importance of communications services and their affordability

Ofcom (2014) Futuresight report on Affordability of essential communications services

Ofcom (2014) Jigsaw report on Affordability of communications services essential for participation

Ofcom (2015) Strategic Review

Pavlidis, K.; Gadir, J. (2013) Improving affordability of communications. Australian Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, Vol 1, No 1, Article 10

Raiche, Holly (2010) for ACCAN, Universal Communications in a Broadband World

South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) (2015) Cost of Living Update, No.22, March Qtr 2015

Telstra (2012) Definitive agreement with NBN

Telstra Access for Everyone

UK Regulators Network (2015) Understanding affordability pressures in essential services.

Vertigan, (2014) Market and Regulatory Report, Vol. 1