The telephone is one of the main ways Australians stay in touch. Our role is to advise the Australian Government about how all Australians can have reasonable access to a standard, reliable telephone service.

The telephone is one of the main ways Australians stay in touch with friends, family and the people they work with.

Our role is to advise the Australian Government about how all Australians can have reasonable access to a standard, reliable telephone service. We are involved in managing coverage and generally improving phone services for all Australians. We also manage consultations with industry, consumer groups, and other government agencies.

We have developed consumer safeguards so phone companies supply reliable phone services. We also have rules to protect the needs of people with disabilities and people with life-threatening medical conditions.

If you believe a phone company has not met its legal obligations, you can:

  1. Contact the phone company first and try to resolve your problem with them. If you aren't satisfied, ask to have the complaint escalated—this means a more senior person will look at it.
  2. If you still aren't satisfied, contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (the TIO) for a free and independent dispute resolution service.

The ACMA can also investigate breaches of the consumer safeguards, enforce regulatory requirements and issue remedial directions.

Productivity Commission Report into the telecommunications Universal Service Obligation

The Government released the Productivity Commission’s (PC) report into the telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (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 USO is a longstanding consumer safeguard that ensures all Australians have access to voice-only standard telephone services and payphones. USO arrangements were put in place in an era before the widespread availability of mobile and broadband services.

The Australian telecommunications sector has undergone significant changes in the last two decades, including the rollout of the $49 billion National Broadband Network (NBN), which will provide communications coverage to every premise in Australia.

We have established a USO taskforce to consider the report and develop a Government response. Targeted consultation will be undertaken over coming months to further inform the response.

The report is available on the Productivity Commission’s website.