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AUS: Directory Assistance Fees

The Government has accepted Telstra's proposal to introduce charges for directory assistance (DA) calls made from mobiles and business phones, the Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston, said today.

'The cost of operating DA is growing rapidly, in large part because some businesses choose to use this free service rather than more appropriate methods of locating numbers, including the White and Yellow Pages, CD-ROM and the internet,' Senator Alston said.

'All phone users contribute, through their phone bills, to subsidising the DA service for these heavy users. Of the 1.2 million calls to DA each day, 80% are made by just nine per cent of subscribers.

'The Government believes that businesses can and should contribute to the cost of business services. Telstra is offering special deals for small business to assist them to access the full range of DA through the internet.

'Telstra MobileNet customers also contribute to the rapidly rising cost of operating the DA service. Subscribers to Optus and Vodafone already pay for DA, and Telstra has made a convincing argument that its customers should also contribute to the cost of the service.

'Telstra's proposed charges will not cover the entire cost of providing DA to mobile and business users, but will help to ensure that those with the capacity to contribute to the cost of providing these services do so.

'The Government has accepted the proposal because it also includes important consumer safeguards, and will allow Telstra to remove recorded advertisements from its DA service.

'There will be no charges for DA calls from residential lines, from payphones, or from business charities. Directory assistance services for people with disabilities will also remain uncharged.'

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