You have a right to a standard telephone service under the Universal Service Obligation (USO).
While Telstra is the USO provider, most areas of Australia are served by two or more telephone companies providing a range of services. Customers can shop around for better deals on a range of services including:
- local calls
- long-distance calls
- international calls
- calls to mobiles.
Picking the right service
Before you choose a service and sign a contract with a landline provider, it's good to know what the various offers and services mean. Providers are required to have a range of information available to customer, including:
Critical information Summary
A critical information summary (CIS) should provide you with clear information about their products, plans and services. This should allow you to easily compare what is being offered for both services.
For more information, see our critical information summaries for telecommunications consumer’s page.
Some things to consider
- Will some calls be included in your monthly fee, or will you need to pay extra for every call you make?
- Do you need a landline service? If you decide to use your mobile service for voice calls instead, you should consider call charges and reception issues.
- If you decide to use a VOIP service, you should be aware there are different types of VoIP services. You should check with your service provider that you are able to make emergency calls to Triple Zero from your VoIP service,
- if this is important to you.
- Can you get a better deal if you bundle your landline service with a mobile, broadband or pay-tv service? Providers often give discounts if you bundle one or more services.
- Will the landline provider you choose meet the Customer Service Guarantee for connections and repairs, or does it ask you to waive your rights to this safeguard?
- Do you have a life-threatening medical condition? If so Priority Assistance may be important to you.
- Can you use phone cards to save money on voice calls?
- Do early termination fees apply if you change your mind?
- Can you pre-select another provider to make certain calls?
You might wish to consider whether you want to nominate another telephone company to supply you with a certain group or ‘basket’ of calls, including:
- national long-distance voice calls to a geographic number
- international direct-dial voice calls
- operator-assisted services
- calls to mobile services.
This is called pre-selection. Whenever you dial one of the services in the ‘basket’, the provider you have preselected will automatically carry that call and bill you for it. Other calls, such as your local calls, would continue to be billed by the telephone company that provides you with your telephone line.
You can also use a pre-selection override code (a four-digit number commencing with '14') on a call-by-call basis to choose a company other than your pre-selected telephone company for that particular call.
Pre-selection is not available for telephone services provided over the National Broadband Network, but will continue to be available for services based on the existing copper telephone network.
If you have identified a service provider that you would like to pre-select, you should check with it that you are able to pre-select its services from your telephone service provider.
Standard industry procedures that must be followed by telephone companies offering pre-selection are governed by the Pre-selection-Single Basket/Multi Service Deliverer Code.
Network performance and Internet Connections
Researching the fixed line network performance of a potential service provider is important, especially if you are considering bundling your fixed line service with an internet service such as ADSL. Multiple factors can impact on your ability to obtain an ADSL and/or impede performance of any internet service you may like to obtain.
For more information, see the ADSL fact sheet.
Once you’ve decided on a preferred landline service—it’s time to shop around.
To help you understand and compared services, keep an eye out for the:
critical information summary
standard charge information.
All telecommunication service providers must provide this information to all potential and current clients to help them understand and compare services.
Standard charge information
Standard charge information should allow you to quickly and easily compare telecommunications service providers and offers. For more information, see our what are standard charges page.
General standards for advertising
To help in making an informed choice, service providers must communicate product and service offers in a way that is clear, accurate and not misleading.
This includes using language suited to the intended audience and providing comprehensible, clear and accurate information without exaggerating or omitting key information.
For more information, see our understanding advertising page.