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universal service


I have had the good fortune to work with Bob James (we developed the TransAct NBN Mark I business case) and Robin Eckermann (the Australian father of FTTN – 10 years ahead of the Commonwealth).

We have developed the idea attached; which could be a game changer for rural and remote customers. The concept is novel but not rocket science. Aceptance and execution will be tricky.


Time to test $300m pa for USO?

This one page Economuse draws attention to the $3oom pa paid to Telstra for the “copper continuity obligation”, which maintains fixed copper services outside the NBN fixed network footprint. It suggests that changes to the definition of the USO and the growing availability of mobile services mean that there may be savings possible in a renegotiated contract. See Economuse 2016-07-14

Productivity Commission – Submission on USO

The Productivity Commission is taking submissions on the policy for the universal service obligation (USO). Submissions are due by 21 July. The draft report is expected in December with a final report to the Commonwealth bu April 2017.

My thoughts on the future of the USO are expressed at length in my Occasional Paper for ACCAN (see my publications page). But, I have submitted some key point in this 3 page submission USO-Prod.Com.July-2016

The NBN and competitive neutrality

In my previous column, I said I would explain how the discount rate might be set for a company with neither debt nor equity. The NBN is not quite the same but the same solution was used for it both by the ACCC and the BCR. Combining that information with the BCR’s estimate of the economic loss that the NBN incurs in supplying fixed wireless and satellite services, I find that that there is some evidence that the NBN is breaching competitive neutrality – i.e. competing unfairly. This issue was first raised by the NBN’s competitors in greenfield fibre sites and the issue is likely to arise again.

The most logical solution, it seems to me, is to write-down assets (and the corresponding amounts in the ICRA) so that the overall internal rate of return becomes commercial.

For more, see Economuse 2016-06-06

The Future of the USO

On 25 November, ACCAN (the peak consumer body for telecommunications in Australia) released an Occasional Paper on the future of the universal service policy in Australia. That paper is on the Publications page ACCAN-USO

The CEO, Teresa Corbin, was kind enough to say:

“John (de Ridder) provided us with an analysis of options for a future universal service policy in Australia. It proved to be thought-provoking and will be very helpful for our work going forward.” – Teresa Corbin, CEO, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN)

Since the concepts of availability, accessibility and affordability were enshrined around 40 years ago in the obligation on Telstra to provide a standard telephone service that meet these principles, a lot has changed. Mobiles are now the preferred means of communication and access to broadband on both fixed and broadband networks has become essential.

The need to revise USO policy is widely recognised; the Shiff Regional Telecommunications Review last month being the most recent example.

Six options are discussed in the Occasional Paper but the two most promising are the subject of this column at Economuse 2015-11-25