- Introduction of untimed local calls
- Web-based data rate test
- Report on program upgrade
- More information
On 1 June 2001 the Government finalised an agreement with Telstra for the provision of untimed calls at the local call rate and upgraded services in the extended zones of Australia, with the aim of reducing the disparities in access to services and facilities experienced by customers in these areas. The agreement provided $150 million for the infrastructure upgrade necessary to provide these services and was funded from the proceeds of the second sale of shares in Telstra.
The extended zones are located in the most sparsely populated areas of Australia. They cover about 80 per cent of Australia's landmass and contain approximately 40,000 telephone services. An indicative indicative map of the extended zones in Australia is available. If you are not sure whether you are located in an extended zone, or if you want to find out which extended zone you are located in or which extended zones adjoin your extended zone, you should contact Telstra on 1800 OutHere (1800 688 437).
The rules governing the extended zone allocation process are complex. The Allocation Rules (Guidelines for the zone allocations of new customer) provide a simplified overview of the major factors that are considered in making a decision about whether the connection of a new telephone service in a remote area of Australia falls within an extended zone. It is a guide only and does not address all the complexities.
Extended zones customers previously had limited or no access to untimed local calls, and consequently incurred more costly timed access to Internet service providers compared to customers in other charging zones. The provision of untimed calls at the local call rate for calls within a customer's extended zone, and to a customer's adjacent extended zone, commenced on 31 July 2001. The agreement is intended to reduce the disparities in access to services and facilities experienced by customers in extended zones.
Since 31 July 2002, customers in the extended zones have been able to access untimed local calls for 22 cents to their designated community service town (CST) as well as to CSTs of adjacent extended zones. Residents and businesses in the CSTs also benefit from the new pricing arrangements when they make calls to customers in the relevant extended zones. Prior to 31 July 2002, these calls were charged at a maximum preferential rate of 27.5 cents for 12 minutes.
The designated CST for each extended zone is a town that can provide a consistent range of community, medical, educational and retail services. You can identify your CST by visiting the Telstra Country Wide section of the Telstra website.
Under the extended zones agreement, you are entitled to a dial-up Internet service providing a data rate of at least 14.4 kbit/s.
Telstra has developed a web-based self-test tool that allows customers to determine the data rate of their telephone service. You can access the data rate test on the Telstra website.
In September 2003, the government introduced a licence condition requiring Telstra to provide the Internet Assistance Program (IAP) on request to all customers, including those in the extended zones, to help them improve their dial-up Internet experience. The IAP's testing and advice services are aimed at helping customers achieve a minimum equivalent throughput of 19.2 kbit/s on their dial-up Internet connection. This level of performance is considered sufficient for simple web browsing and sending email.
The IAP services are available on the IAP website at www.iapselfhelp.com or free call 1800 427 457. You can get more information about the IAP from the ACMA fact sheet The Internet Assistance Program.
In October 2002 the former ACA released a report on the progress of the program for the delivery of service improvements to the extended zones.
Further information on developments relating to the USO regime can be found on the website of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.