The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, previously named the Department of Communications and Arts, is looking to trial alternative ways of delivering voice (home phone) services in regional, rural and remote (RRR) areas. The Department is focusing particularly on areas in the high capacity radio concentrator (HCRC) footprint, where voice services are delivered via radio technology, rather than copper or via the Internet.

The Department is seeking feedback on how the trials should be designed, run and evaluated. ACCAN supports the trials as a welcome step towards delivering quality and reliable voice services in regional, rural and remote areas. We argued that a number of improvements could be made to the Department’s proposal, including: introducing performance benchmarks for trial services, developing minimum service assurances for participating consumers, and developing robust feedback mechanisms for all trial participants.

The 2018 Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee reported on consumer frustration with home phone services delivered via high capacity radio concentrator (or HCRC) technology. The HCRC network is unsatisfactory for consumers in rural, regional and remote areas because reliability and performance of voice services can be poor, and resolving faults is complicated due to the age and availability of the technology.

The Alternative Voice Service Trials, developed in response to the 2018 Review’s findings, will allow telco providers to trial voice services via different technologies. The viability and suitability of these services will then be evaluated. The trial’s results will inform the Department’s future policy decisions in this area.

ACCAN argued that while the trials are a welcome next step, the following aspects should be incorporated:

  • Trial services should undergo technical evaluation against established performance benchmarks to assess their viability and suitability,
  • Participating telco providers should give minimum service assurances so no participating consumer is left without a service during the trials,
  • The Department should incentivise smaller telco providers to participate in the trials,
  • More funding for the trials is needed , and
  • Robust feedback mechanisms for trial participants should be in place.


Download: docxFeedback on the Design of Alternative Voice Service Trials815.34 KB

Download: pdfFeedback on the Design of Alternative Voice Service Trials555.67 KB