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: http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/telecommunications#report