Landline Phones and the Universal Service Obligation (USO)

The Universal Service Obligation (USO) is a long-standing consumer protection that ensures everyone has access to landline telephones and pay phones regardless of where they live or work.

Telstra is responsible for delivering the USO, and must provide standard telephone services (STS) on request to every premises in Australia within reasonable timeframes. This is both a legislative and contractual obligation.

Please note Telstra are required to maintain landlines in nbn Sky Muster and nbn Fixed Wireless mapped areas, people in these areas DO NOT have to move to an nbn landline and can keep their current landline service.  BIRRR recommends that you maintain your standard landline service in addition to your internet service. If you are told a different story to the above information by a provider, please contact the BIRRR team.

Telstra delivers the USO STS (Standard Telephone Service) using a mix of technologies, including copper, fibre, point to point radio (e.g. high capacity radio concentrator system or HCRC), NGWL and satellite infrastructure (i.e. Telstra’s USO Sat service).

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HCRC in North Western QLD during the devastating 2019 Floods.

Telstra fulfil their obligation to provide an STS by giving customers access to a reliable telephone service that has good voice reception and ensures connections and faults associated with this service are undertaken and repaired within a reasonable time.

You can read what features are included in a USO STS here.

How to order a STS

Orders can be placed at your local Telstra store, by calling 13 22 00, or visiting Telstra online.

Telstra national pricing ensures that customers in remote areas pay the same price for an STS as customers in cities. While this service has traditionally been provided as a fixed line telephone service, Telstra’s obligation is technology neutral meaning they can choose the technology over which they provide you with the service.  For example in some remote areas Telstra provide customers with an STS over satellite.

For more details on appointment, connection and repair times, visit the Telstra website

Telstra STS Repair Times

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Telstra Consumer Service Guarantee (CSG) Payments

If Telstra are unable to repair your landline (STS) within the agreed timeframe you may be entitled to a CSG payment. Keep a record of when you report faults and fault numbers to assist with this process.

Payments are currently:

  • $14.52 (for residential/charity customers) or $24.20 (for business customers), for each working day missed, for the first 5 working days of delay.
  • After the first 5 working days of delay, you may be entitled to receive a CSG payment of $48.40 per additional working day of delay.

The CSG payment does not apply in some cases e.f  if you are offered (even if you don’t accept) an interim telephone service, delays due to natural disasters or circumstances beyond the control of Telstra or if you don’t allow access to your property to a technician.

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For more information please call 13 22 00.

USO arrangements were put in place before the widespread availability of mobile and broadband services. In April 2016, the Government requested the Productivity Commission (PC) undertake an inquiry into the future direction of the USO in an evolving telecommunications market.

The Government released the PC’s report into the telecommunications USO on 19 June 2017. The report provides a range of recommendations regarding the future of universal access to a minimum level of retail telecommunication services.

The final report is available on the Productivity Commission’s websiteYou can read the BIRRR Submission to the Productivity Commission here.

The Government released its response to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation on 20 December 2017. The response outlined the Government’s intention to establish a Universal Service Guarantee to cover both broadband and voice services.

ACCAN TIP SHEET ON USO

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding any specific information for your service. Updated 18/08/19

Prepared for BIRRR by Kristy Sparrow.

 

What is NGWL

Next G Wireless Link service is like the Landline Home Phone service provided by Telstra under the Universal Service Obligation where it is impractical/uncommercial for Telstra to run a landline service and the Next G is available.

The service is not the equivalent of a standard Telstra fixed line service and is not supplied by Telstra in fulfilment of Telstra’s Universal Service Obligation. The Customer Service Guarantee Standard does not apply to the Service. The service does not provide calls at 3.1kHz bandwidth. (More information here)

Stands for Next G Wireless Link

Next G Wireless Link exploits the coverage and data capabilities of Next G 850MHz network to provide:

  • Voice
  • Fax
  • Broadband internet

 

UPDATE April 2018

Telstra is inviting NGWL customers to get in contact to discuss their current NGWL plans including options for accessing the current range of HomeLine plans (https://www.telstra.com.au/home-phone/plans-rates). There are also options for NGWL customers with an existing broadband plan to move onto a 25GB BigPond Mobile Broadband plan for 12 or 24 months with a $70 monthly credit (data for use in Australia). Customers, if interested, can call Telstra’s dedicated team on 1800 696 495 (1800-MY-NGWL) option 3 (sales, accounts and payments) to find out more.

[Next G Wireless Link (NGWL) uses the Telstra Next G® Network to give customers access to a voice[fax] and internet service. It’s offered to selected customers as an alternative to a standard fixed line service, in certain circumstances.]

Graphics from a presentation to the ICEWL conference in 2008
Developing Telecommunications eLearning modules: Field Work Force Performance Support
John Sandler, Telstra, Australia
https://www.icelw.org/proceedings/2008/start.htm