CHOICE membership

Telecommunications Customer Service Guarantee


I have a 75 year old sister-in-law who cannot use a computer despite years of education and reeducation - each ‘lesson’ is groundhog day. She had to get a new smart phone and has disabled voice mail as being too difficult and struggles with SMS. She longs for the days of brute simplicity without bells and whistles, a bygone era she could understand as well as anyone.


Older people are losing out. Family have tried repeatedly to get my mother-in-law (much older than 75 !!) to use a mobile phone. You know the routine - simple design phone/s (if that can be said about any smart phone these days), managing the account payments/refilling for them, reminding them to charge it, reminding them to turn it on, telling them to not turn it off - to no avail.


Trying to make head or tail of this. The focus of the article is rural/regional, but the whole nation will be affected. It’s supposed to be an integrated package, but there seem to be an awful lot of bits.

USO, USG, RBS, SIP - WTF? :dizzy_face:


It does seem that, if you want a 'phone that you can be reasonably certain will work when the power goes out, then a mobile is your only option. Apparently, all those wired emergency 'phones stop working when the NBN arrives. This video is from a firm that specialises in installing 3G replacements for lift emergency 'phones.


The Broadband Tax has been on the books to have it made law for about 2 years. It has been slow progress getting it to be formally passed into law.

I guess you already know what the other parts are but in case others don’t:

USO is to be made into the USG

Simply put the Universal Service Obligations (USO) was the previous obligation to provide an equitable connection service and previously Telstra were the USO carrier.

From the ACMA site "The universal service obligation (USO) is the obligation placed on universal service providers to ensure that standard telephone services, payphones and prescribed carriage services are reasonably accessible to all people in Australia on an equitable basis, wherever they reside or carry on business. This includes services for people with a disability, as covered under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

As the primary universal service provider (PUSP) Telstra is responsible for the USO in Australia. Information on Telstra’s USO website indicates how Telstra intends to fulfill its PUSP obligations, including fulfilling its obligations to people with a disability, people with special needs and eligible priority customers.

The losses from supplying loss-making services in the course of fulfilling the USO are to be shared among carriers."

Under the NBN the standard telephone service is no longer standard and instead we have an internet connection with the phone service an add on to that. The USG (Universal Service Guarantee) is developed to recognise this shift in technology. These USG services will also have to support voice calls on fixed line and fixed wireless networks, but not satellite.

Instead of Telstra having the main/only responsibility for USO, under USG it now will be NBN Co and it will be designated as the primary “Statutory Infrastructure Provider” (SIP). Other carriers will be able to be SIPs where appropriate (for example in new developments).

From the Govt comes this “The new SIP obligations will ensure that every Australian can access high-speed broadband as the NBN is rolled out.” and what do they define as high speed “SIPs will have to offer a standard wholesale broadband service supporting peak speeds of at least 25 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload.” I really don’t define that as high speed but each to their own definition.

The Govt released an article about all the reforms in June 2017 and the following is an excerpt from that “The Regional Broadband Scheme (RBS) will provide sustainable funding for the loss-making National Broadband Network (NBN) fixed wireless and satellite networks in regional Australia.” This is partly what the Broadband Tax will help fund, it is also used to pay back some of the implementation costs of the NBN.

Currently the Tax will be $7 per month but in the first year can be raised to $10 per month by the Minister, after this first year it will be indexed to the CPI. So in the long term we, the users, will pay for the NBN cost of our own connections (but never own them) and then it will be sold to private enterprise and the Govt will recover that money to general revenue.

If you move into a new development you will also be charged a further one-off $300 to connect to the NBN or comparable SIP to help offset the infrastructure costs.

Further into the article "The RBS is not a new cost for NBN users – it is already built into existing NBN broadband prices today. The RBS simply makes NBN Co’s internal cross-subsidy transparent instead of opaque, and creates a level playing field by spreading this cost across all NBN-comparable networks.

It is estimated that 95% of the RBS will continue to be paid for by NBN Co, whereas today it is 100%. The remaining 5% will be paid for by competing NBN-comparable wholesale broadband networks."

I hope that helps others to understand all the acronyms.


Not all stop working, if FTTP and power backed up they will continue to work, if FTTC and FTTB and power backed up they will continue to work, if Fixed Wifi or Satellite and power backed up they will continue to work. All these previous examples require the Exchange to continue to have power (the same for the old copper network).

If FTTN or HFC (about 70% of all NBN connections) then they won’t.

Also remembering that a Mobile Tower can lose power in an electrical power outage and thus a Mobile will not work either. Recently due to some renovations of a shopping centre, Telstra had to advise that even 000 calls would not be able to be made by Mobiles in the area affected even using alternative providers.


How do you think mobile base stations work? The same electricity that powers your home is used by the base stations. During the widespread SA blackouts base stations ran for 20-40 minutes before their batteries were depleted.

The PSTN system would stay running no matter what happened so you could always pick up the phone and call for help. FTTP also offered this benefit but this was dropped in favour of current systems that require power in the streets and the poles to operate and have electronics exposed to the elements.

So a mobile is not your only option, it’s not even really an option. Get yourself a UHF radio at the very least and consider a satellite phone if you have someone who might need help during an extended outage. And stop relying on the government, keep medical and food supplies topped up, take a first aid course and make plans because the government is no longer willing to help.


Interesting point about the lift emergency phones. We have one in our home for my mother. It is currently a building code requirement to have in all lifts a fixed line PSTN emergency phone that will work with or without power.

With NBN, even if phones are connected via VOIP with battery backup at the user end, if the power goes out suburb(s) wide, as happens during larger weather events, the whole system loses power quickly. Chances mobile towers aren’t working then either due to lack of power. Then what? How do people stuck in lifts communicate?

More generally, what about an old frail person at home alone with no phone working because the power has failed, how do they communicate with the outside world? I can the potential for people dying as a result.

[edit: Wrote this and then saw @matthew’s post. Sorry about the overlap.]


There was a time when we’d live with or within a short drive of that old fogey (the one we call mum or dad) and if things got real we’d nip over and check them out, fire up a gas burner and have a cuppa (or nip of something) by torchlight and laugh about this new-fangled-sh** that wasn’t working.

Times have changed, and its not quite as funny as you rightly point out. Families disperse far more widely than ever before, across countries and across the planet. It’s no longer that simple. People can still be hours or days away - we can’t always just nip over to check up on someone under some premise and have a laugh about it.

I have a close family member who has one of those buttons on a lanyard they can press in an emergency. Recently, I’m sure due in part to the NBN situation, they changed the in-home base stations to mobile from PSTN, but the point is well made, what is the expected uptime of a cell tower during a grid failure? What if the failure is systemic and not isolated? What if the failure is persistent and not short term? From what I’ve seen locally, ‘we’ can be fairly confident we can survive isolated incidents that have fairly short mean time to repair, but big stuff - we’re screwed.

… and don’t forget the can opener …



Customer service in action. :roll_eyes:


@Drop_Bear this may be a subscriber only article as after trying several ways, the Daily Telegraph page came up with only a header and a footer, with no content.


I am not a subscriber to the DT but the DT displayed the entire article after my browser (and ad blocker) asked if I really wanted to be redirected. My default browser is firefox.

Did you try a different browser than your normal? I have different problems on different web sites and variously need to use firefox, chrome, and even opera for a site to fully function.


This page had over 40 items blocked by my ad blockers. I had to allow most of them in the end to get the page to display, similar to @TheBBG’s experience. In particular Privacy Badger seemed to block the most “important” ones that allowed the page to be displayed.

After reading the story the ad blockers were again enabled, I deleted the cookies etc and the computer was restarted.


Page rendered first time for me - I’ve found badger and pi-hole work well together - haven’t had to touch pi-hole to get anything to work since it was installed a few months back, but I have added extra stuff to it, including some of the Microsoft telemetry …


I’m not a subscriber. The article displayed for me in the Eclipse browser, without having to disable anything. That surprised me. Murdoch media usually demands that I log in or subscribe…


Hmmm… I hadn’t thought of that. Thank you.

Had a look -
Adblock Plus 1 blocked on this page
Privacy Badger detected 5 potential trackers on this page.
Avira Browser Safety detected 11 Trackers blocked on this website

So I might give it a miss.


It would seem that the Telecommunications Service Guarantee will be terminated with the rollout of the NBN [in whatever form] replacing the landlines. It is suggested that mobile phones be used during episodes of power outage at the landline location. Why isn’t an emergency mobile phone account included with the NBN landline service? Why hasn’t it been deemed compulsory?


The Universal Service Obligation will be replaced in 2020 by the Universal Service Guarantee.

And yes, Universal Service Obligation is the Telecommunications Service Guarantee.


Well yes the TCSG will be terminated but it will not be replaced by the Universal Service Guarantee (USG) as @Drop_Bear posted above, many are confused by what is going on and what Agencies are saying not least me so it is very understandable.

USO which is changing to USG is about supplying what will now be broadband to all of Australia but was about supplying Telephone services to all of Australia including Payphones.

Telstra will no longer be the responsible party for the USG[quote=“grahroll, post:65, topic:13850”]
Instead of Telstra having the main/only responsibility for USO, under USG it now will be NBN Co and it will be designated as the primary “Statutory Infrastructure Provider” (SIP). Other carriers will be able to be SIPs where appropriate (for example in new developments).

The last part not on satellite is referring to voice calls over satellite and satellite users are entitled to and should be keeping their copper connection for this reason.

What does this all mean in the end. Well it means there will be a guarantee, it will mean that the NBN Co will guarantee to provide a NBN service to remote and Rural areas. but it is still be threshed out by the Commonwealth USO Task Force:

"Our USO Taskforce is currently developing delivery options for the future USG and is consulting with representatives of regional and remote Australia and industry stakeholders.

As part of this work, the Taskforce is examining the feasibility and cost implications of a number of key issues, including:

  • Alternative means of providing voice services to premises in nbn’s satellite footprint, recognising that nbn satellites are designed for broadband and not voice services.
  • The potential impact on nbn costs and network design if premises currently serviced by Telstra under the USO migrate to NBN infrastructure.
  • Where and when it may be appropriate for Telstra to reduce the number of payphones provided under the USO."

Does it mean a user will be compensated, this may not in the future be the case and currently is not the case as it was under the TCSG with Telstra. RSPs (Retail Service Providers who used to be called ISPs) however will be compensated for failures of service delivery standards by NBN Co under NBN Co’s Wholesale Service Standards.

Telstra currently offers the below and you will note there is no daily penalty for failure of service:

"The nbn satisfaction guarantee is our promise to you that if you’re not happy within 30 days of connecting your nbn services, you can cancel without paying early termination charges and we’ll refund your first monthly plan fee and any hardware repayment costs.

Can I take up the nbn satisfaction guarantee?

If you’re an eligible customer and within 30 days of your nbn service being connected then you can take up the nbn satisfaction guarantee. The 30 days starts after the service is connected to the nbn network.

You are an eligible customer on a casual, 12 or 24 month contract and you’re:

Connecting a new nbn service with Telstra
Migrating to the nbn network with Telstra

You’re not eligible if you’re a customer of:

Belong (including nbn)
Moves (if you’re already on nbn moving to a new address with nbn)
If you port out/disconnect without calling

How can I take up the nbn satisfaction guarantee?

Simply let us know within 30 days of your nbn connection by contacting one of our dedicated Live Chat agents, or calling 1800 870 472

What will I get back?

We’ll refund your first monthly plan fee, any speed boost charges, hardware repayment costs you may have paid, (and any standard Telstra installation, connection or activation fees. We will also any waive early termination fees and you’re welcome to keep your hardware or equipment (except Foxtel by Telstra equipment if applicable). You’ll need to pay for any call charges not included in your plan or excess data charges you may have incurred. Non-standard installation charges or nbn co fees are not included.

I’m an existing Telstra customer but new to Telstra nbn am I eligible for the nbn satisfaction guarantee?

Yes, if you’re connecting to nbn for the first time with Telstra, you’re eligible for the nbn satisfaction guarantee.

What if I want to return to my old ADSL or Cable services?

Once you take up an nbn service at your address, you can’t move back to ADSL or Cable services on Telstra’s fixed network. If you take up our nbn satisfaction guarantee, you’ll be able to take up nbn services with another provider or simply no longer have home phone and broadband services at this time."

ACCAN ( Australian Communications Consumer Action Network) also note the concern that customers/consumers will currently have no real protection, the following is from an article they were quoted in (

"ACCAN asserts minimum “connection, repair and reliability standards” must apply. The group has brought its concerns to the ACCC, as part of its inquiry into NBN wholesale service standards:

“Therefore, it is important that minimum connection, repair and reliability standards apply. While consumers deal directly with retail service providers it is important that incentives and accountability measures apply to the body responsible for delivering each element of the end-to-end services”

“Consumers currently do not have guarantees in relation to connection, reliability and repair timeframes for broadband and this puts their services at risk”."

The Wholesale Service Standards certainly do not protect the end user at all.

So contact your Federal Representatives (both House of Reps and Senate) and complain and/or offer suggestions (polite is best but I guess other ways might also work), contact the USO Taskforce (you should be able to locate a way to do so here, put in a submission/contact the ACCC about the Wholesale Service Standards Inquiry via this site