New legislation guarantees broadband access for all Australians

3 Jul 2020

A new Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) regime has come into effect in Australia, underpinning the country’s Universal Service Guarantee and ensuring that as far as the government is concerned, ‘there is now a legislated framework for access to broadband as well as voice telephone services and payphones’.

Confirming the development, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRC) noted that, under the new laws, NBN Co will have a statutory obligation to provide networks that allow end-users to receive broadband with peak download and upload speeds of at least 25Mbps/5Mbps. Further, that company must also make sure that at least 90% of premises on its fixed line network can receive peak broadband speeds of 50Mbps/10Mbps down/up. Meanwhile, in those areas where NBN Co is not the default network provider – for example, where other network operators have contracts to service new developments – those other operators must meet these requirements. In addition, the DITRC confirmed that the Regional Broadband Scheme (RBS), which is part of the same package of reforms and will provide funding of more than AUD700 million (USD485 million), will commence from 1 January 2021, with this designed to provide ‘transparent, sustainable and ongoing funding for rural, regional and remote broadband’.

Commenting, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, said: ‘These historic laws mean that all Australians can access high speed broadband, no matter where they live or work.’ He added: ‘The existing Universal Service Obligation mandates access to voice services only. The new Universal Service Guarantee expands the mandate to give Australians guaranteed access to broadband as well as voice services, while also ensuring current fixed telephone and payphone services are maintained in rural and remote areas.’