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Telecommunications, Universal Service,
The Universal Service Obligation (USO) ensures access to voice communication services to all Australians. The obligation has changed very little in comparison to the telecommunications market and consumers’ use of services. This presents a number of gaps and risks for consumers as safeguards do not exist for the communications services that are used today, such as data and mobile services. However, updating the obligation to include these services alone will likely fail consumers. Furthermore, focusing on distributing resources does not take into consideration the resulting outcome for consumers; how they utilise the opportunities that they have or the barriers that they may face. This paper outlines the imperative for action in this area and argues for a new framework based on a principal of contact-ability. This new framework will have four key areas; availability, affordability, accessibility and service standards. A further two additional areas; online service delivery and literacy and empowerment, are also needed to fully ensure contact-ability is achieved.
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