The universal service obligation (USO) is the obligation placed on universal service providers to ensure that standard telephone services (STS), payphones and prescribed carriage services are reasonably accessible to all people in Australia on an equitable basis, wherever they reside or carry on business. No carriage services have been prescribed to date.
Telstra is currently the primary universal service provider (PUSP), but additional universal service providers may be declared in the future. As the PUSP, Telstra is obliged to have a policy statement and marketing plan approved by the ACMA. The policy statement and marketing plan outline how Telstra intends to fulfil its obligations as the PUSP, including fulfilling its obligations to people with a disability, people with special needs and eligible priority customers.
Telstra’s obligation as the PUSP is a national obligation and applies to all areas, including those connected, or planned to be connected to the National Broadband Network. Telstra may use a variety of different technologies to provide an STS in fulfilment of its USO, including traditional copper, fibre or wireless solutions. There is no requirement that a service provided in fulfilment of the USO also be capable of supporting an internet service.
A central object of the USO regime is that the losses that result from supplying loss-making services in the course of fulfilling the universal service obligation are to be shared among carriers. The Minister may expand the funding base to include carriage service providers, but has not done so to date. The USO funding page provides information on how the national universal service obligation cost is calculated and shared amongst carriers.
For more information about Telstra's universal service standard marketing plan and policy statement, please contact Telstra.
Historical USO initiatives
Other USO related links
- Register of approved policy statements and approved standard and ATS marketing plans
- USO discussion papers and other USO documents
- USO legislation
- Telecommunications Act 1997
- Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999
- Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy website
- Funding of the USO
- Priority Assistance for people with life-threatening medical conditions