Telecommunications (Payphone Consultation Document) Guidelines 2012
To support recent legislative reforms aimed at strengthening consumer safeguards in the Australian telecommunications industry, the minister made the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (Public Consultation on the Location or Removal of Payphones) Determination 2011 which commenced on 1 January 2012.
This Determination sets out the public consultation processes that a Primary Universal Service Provider (PUSP, currently Telstra) must follow before installing, removing or relocating a payphone from a particular site. Division 2 of Part 2 specifically applies when a PUSP proposes to remove the last remaining payphone from a site.
In these cases, a PUSP is required to prepare and publish a payphone consultation document (PCD) that must comply with any of the Australian Communications and Media Authority's (the ACMA's) guidelines that set out the format for such a document. In addition, the PCD must also include the following information:
a PUSP’s reasons for the proposed payphone removal and the facts upon which this is based
to the extent that it is available, and it is reasonable for a PUSP to disclose, the evidence proving those facts,
a statement about which criteria are considered to apply to the proposed payphone removal
information about how a complaint may be made to a PUSP about the proposed payphone removal, and
a notification that a PUSP may be required to give a complainants’ personal information (as contained in the complaint) to the ACMA.
The ACMA registered the Telecommunications (Payphone Consultation Document) Guidelines 2012 on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments and these took effect on 5 September 2012.
Payphone (Assessment of Net Social Benefit) Guidelines 2012
To support legislative reforms to the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 enabling enhanced safeguards for payphones, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy made the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (Location of Payphones) Determination 2011 (the Payphone Location Determination), among other instruments, and these commenced on 1 January 2012.
The Payphone Location Determination sets out the location and removal criteria for payphones provided under the Universal Service Obligation, one of which requires the Primary Universal Service Provider (PUSP) to consider the ‘net social benefit’ to the local community when making a decision to locate or remove the last remaining payphone from a site.
To assess net social benefit, the PUSP must have regard, among other matters, to the Payphone (Assessment of Net Social Benefit) Guidelines (NSB Guidelines) prepared by the ACMA.
The NSB Guidelines (Word or PDF), which took effect from 7 February 2012, consider the costs and benefits—both financial and non-financial—to all stakeholders and the broader social impacts. To determine the net social benefit, the PUSP is required to undertake an on-balance assessment of the impacts on all affected stakeholders, including the PUSP and the local community concerned.
On 8 June 2006, the then Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts announced a payphone package. The package outlines how Telstra and the ACMA will make more information available on consumer rights to payphone services and enhance the process for making complaints about payphones.
Telstra’s responsibility under the Universal Service Obligation (USO) is to ensure all people in Australia have reasonable access on an equitable basis to payphones, regardless of where they reside or conduct their business. How Telstra meets these obligations is set out in its Standard Marketing Plan (SMP). Copies of Telstra's SMP can be downloaded here.
Section 3.8 of the SMP explains what Telstra must do to provide reasonable access to payphones, including removal criteria. It also includes siting, installation and maintenance information.
If you believe Telstra has not met its obligation to provide reasonable access to payphone services and this affects you, your community, your organisation or a person you represent, the ACMA may be able to help. See Payphone Complaints for further information and to obtain a complaints form.
For information on the location of Telstra-operated payphones, you can use the Telstra payphone Locator tool.
For further information on your rights to a telephone service, including payphones under the Universal Service Obligation, see the ACMA fact sheet.