Telstra’s obligation to provide landlines may be given the flick

The Productivity Commission’s draft report on the future direction of Telstra’s “Universal Service Obligation” has recommended scrapping Australians’ right to landlines.

The Commission argues that the cost of providing landlines will no longer be justified following the completion of the NBN rollout, particularly in view of the large uptake of mobile phones.  Subsidisation of payphones also faces the chop.  The Universal Service Obligation is paid for via levies on telecommunication companies in combination with government funding.

The agreement, which was supposed to run through to 2032, places an obligation on Telstra to ensure that standard telephone services are reasonably accessible to all people in Australia on an equitable basis, wherever they live or work.  This includes services for people with a disability.

The Productivity Commission’s draft report makes NO mention of the health consequences of forcing Australians to rely on phone services provided via the nbn and mobile phone carriers. 

Five percent of Australian premises fall inside the NBN fixed wireless footprint, necessitating the erection of thousands of new base stations (towers) across rural Australia emitting pulsed microwave radiation.  In turn, subscribers’ premises must be equipped with a line-of-sight antenna to the base station.  The NBN equipment may be used for accessing voice-over-broadband as well as the internet; the downside is that this exposes subscribers to 24/7 pulsed radiation in the microwave range.  Evidently, the Commission doesn’t have a problem with this.  The alternative for people living in a fixed wireless zone will be to rely on a mobile phone service, if available.

People living in the estimated three percent of premises within the NBN satellite footprint won’t fare much better, if the Commission’s recommendations go ahead.  People using a satellite telephone connection will experience a disconcerting time lag whilst talking.  But then again, this isn’t viewed as a major problem, given that there may be scope for using a mobile phone as an alternative.

The Productivity Commission is obviously unaware of the growing numbers of Australians with electrical hypersensitivity (EHS).  These people will face difficulties living with NBN fixed wireless.  Due to their sensitivities, they also might not any longer be able to use a mobile phone, or may only be able to use one for a limited duration whilst taking precautions, such as using the phone in conjunction with an airtube headset.

The Productivity Commission is also obviously unaware that encouraging the uptake of wireless services may have serious long-term consequences for the health of the nation.

If you would like to have your say on the inquiry into the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation, there is still time.  It is very important that the Commission is made aware, in particular, of the ramifications for the growing EHS population of losing the right to have a landline in the fixed wireless and satellite footprints.  A number of people with EHS have retreated to rural areas to escape being bombarded with electro-smog; if these recommendations go through, it will further add to their isolation!

The Commission is conducting hearings during late January through to early February at various locations.  People who are unable to attend in person are also able to present evidence via teleconference at the Melbourne hearing (7 and 8 February).  The Commission’s final report is due to be forwarded to the Australian Government by 28 April 2017.

You can view Stop Smart Meters Australia’s comment on the Commission’s draft report here.

For further details on this inquiry, along with information about hearings, go to:

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15 Responses to Telstra’s obligation to provide landlines may be given the flick

  1. Graham says:

    I switched my phone and internet services over to the NBN last year. My home phone now works over the NBN with the same corded handset as before. Is this still considered as being a landline ?
    Or has my “landline” phone been done away with ?

    • Cathy says:

      Oh, so you must be on fixed line NBN? Pity those of us on satellite, or where only NBN fixed wireless is available. Losing our copper connections would be a disaster!

      • Graham says:

        Yes, I’m on fixed line NBN. Is Telstra saying I don’t have a right to this type of service ???

        • Cathy says:

          Wasn’t it the government who decided phone services over the old copper lines would be switched off in the NBN fixed line areas? Customers in these areas will have to switch over to using nbn’s network for their phone service. But at least fibre is safe!!

  2. smart meter sufferer says:

    I just phoned the Productivity Commission and was told that it is not too late to put in a submission.
    They will be accepting submissions until the end of February, but encouraging people to put them in as soon as possible. It would be great if more people , especially those who are EHS or concerned about the health risks of mobile phones could write in.
    Anyone living in rural council areas should contact their council to make them aware of this important issue .

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks you for your excellent submission Janobai. Surely most people realise that mobile phones are harmful to children…perhaps some more submissions that focus on this?

  4. Christine Hooper says:

    I thought landlines – as public phones – are essential for safety/emergency?

    • Landlines are absolutely essential in emergencies! They are far more reliable than wireless communications. In Hurricane Sandy, those without a landline were forced to use payphones – there were blocks up to a block long for those babies!

  5. Christine Crawford says:

    Can’t wait for a bushfire to come in and cut off mobile phones…. It’s happened before…. then there’s those black spots…. Christine

  6. Andre says:

    We need to reach ‘critical mass’ as soon as possible !

    What is this world becoming ?

    It’s usually the big rich boys (Corporations) who make the decisions, in this case, it is us who must put a STOP to this madness!

    Imagine if they go ahead with their plans, which means that rural areas too, will be saturated in electromagnetic smog far & wide. Not only is this outright dangerous, stress levels will also be way increased etc.

    I think that the push for this is intentional!

  7. Terry says:

    Just another big corporation or government making decisions without the input of the public they were suppose to be serving and representing in their best interests. It should be our decision of whether we require the continuation of this service, just like the sale of Western Power here in Western Australia. We are the people that started these services and paid for them and we have the choice taken away. It’s not about whether or not the landline system is still viable financially! It is our decision to either continue or scrap it and that is what a democracy decides. Put it to a public vote and stop individuals having too much power in our so called democracy!

  8. Ava Silcock says:

    Are we going to oppose ??


  9. Andrea says:

    How utterly ridiculous!!! I’ve been in a number of houses in the last few years with NO mobile service, Telstra, Optus or otherwise and with my health, a concern to people without landlines. What if I suddenly needed an ambulance? Some of these houses have been not terribly far from major cities, if just outside “city” borders (within ‘greater’ city borders). I never manage to get more than 100kms inland, it’s not as if I’m talking about 1/2way to Mt Isa, I’m talking about withIN greater Brisbane in some cases. Or, to translate to politicians and inner-city dwellers, the sort of places people on pensions HAVE to go to, to be able to afford housing! (Hello Mr Dutton.) Yet again, I’m a person with a disability who is STILL discriminated against! I’m on NBN right now, first time in 3 days, the NBN is RUBBISH. Watch it drop out again now as I tell people about it…

  10. Brigitte Kerrutt says:

    I am impressed with the submission! Six pages of well-researched facts – one should think that people with a conscience cannot dismiss it!
    Well done, Janobai.

  11. Tony Baron says:

    Does this mean that there will be NO new landline telephone connections?

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