Time to re­view USO: MP

Lit­tleproud fights for bet­ter phone ac­cess

Chinchilla News - - NEWS -

MARA­NOA MP David Lit­tleproud sees an op­por­tu­nity to re­shape the Uni­ver­sal Ser­vice Obli­ga­tion (USO) to bet­ter ser­vice the bush and achieve the right tech­nol­ogy mix to guar­an­tee bet­ter mo­bile and phone ser­vices across his ru­ral and re­mote elec­torate, as well as pro­vid­ing a long-awaited kick-start to do­mes­tic mo­bile roam­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Mr Lit­tleproud said the USO was a 20-year, $3 bil­lion agree­ment be­tween the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and Tel­stra that re­quires ev­ery Aus­tralian to have ac­cess to tele­phone ser­vices, both fixed and pay­phone.

“I think it’s com­monly ac­cepted that while the local pay­phone box is a sight we all recog­nise, as a re­sult of the in­creas­ing use of mo­bile phones, it makes sense that as a gov­ern­ment we should be look­ing to­wards a prag­matic and sen­si­ble re­view of USO fund­ing,” he said.

“What we as a gov­ern­ment must ap­pre­ci­ate is that although a re­view is needed, we can’t ap­ply a cookie cut­ter ap­proach in the coun­try, as it’s ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary and im­per­a­tive that ac­cess to fixed line ser­vices re­mains in ar­eas with­out re­li­able mo­bile cov­er­age.

“I be­lieve the USO fund­ing could be spent to fund new mo­bile phone tow­ers but, as this is tax­payer money in part, it should be man­dated that all tel­cos pay to ac­cess this in­fra­struc­ture to pro­vide seam­less mo­bile phone cov­er­age across Aus­tralia.

“The Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion has al­ready said, in its draft re­port, there’s a strong case to re­view the USO obli­ga­tions, which in­cludes the lack of transparency or ac­count­abil­ity from Tel­stra in the way it’s us­ing that money, and at the same time I see this as an op­por­tu­nity to open up the mar­ket place for con­sumers, par­tic­u­larly re­gional, ru­ral and re­mote cus­tomers.

“Make no mis­take, this gov­ern­ment is pri­ori­tis­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions in the bush and I know that in terms of the in­ter­net the in­tro­duc­tion of leg­is­la­tion last week to en­sure min­i­mum broad­band stan­dards is an im­por­tant piece of the puz­zle.

“Cou­ple this with to­day’s an­nounce­ment that Sky Muster users will soon see the ben­e­fit of a 50 per cent in­crease to their peak data and twice as much data dur­ing off peak times.

“In my mind, it’s the right time to ad­vo­cate for bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tions for peo­ple in the coun­try.

“We must have on­go­ing ac­cess to fixed line ser­vices, as well as bet­ter and more com­pet­i­tive mo­bile phone cov­er­age in the bush.”

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