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                    [post_content] => Black Mountain Telecom Tower - 4

The Government has published the submissions to its review into tthe structure and operationselco and media regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Unsurprisingly, the big three telcos all want less regulation.

The review was announced in June by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He said then the review was necessary to ensure the ACMA could “effectively deal with challenges arising from a rapidly changing communications sector.”

The ACMA said it welcomed the review, acknowledging that the commercial and technological environment today is very different from when the ACMA was formed almost exactly ten years ago from the merger of the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Communications Authority on 1 July 2005.

The Department of Communications has now made public the 40 submissions to the review. Unsurprisingly, Australia’s three major telcos all argue for a reduction in the ACMA’s powers and increased self-regulation, arguing that many of the ACMA’s functions should be transferred to industry.

All submissions can be found here.

The ACMA’s own submission focuses on its achievements, and argues that no major changes need to be made to its powers, beyond updating them to take changing technology into account.

“The ACMA considers that most of the existing communications and media public policy objectives are enduring and will remain very relevant in a future communications environment. However, the method for achieving these desirable policy outcomes is likely to require revision to support future technology and service developments as well as addressing the changing risk characteristics of the global, digital communications environment.”

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone all say the ACMA’s role should be reduced.

Telstra:

“The current regime falls short of best practice and can be improved by making greater use of coregulation and self-regulation options. In co-regulation the regulator still has a role (typically enforcing the requirements) while in self-regulation the requirements are either voluntary or subject to consequences under an industry compliance framework.

“Compared to ‘black-letter’ regulatory solutions administered by regulators, Telstra considers these options can often solve problems and deliver policy outcomes more efficiently as well as making the regulation more flexible and fit-for-purpose. They offer the opportunity for at least some of the functions currently undertaken by the ACMA to be transferred to industry over time, subject to suitable compliance arrangements being established.”

Optus:

“In common with a number of other infrastructure based industries the need for specific regulation of the telecommunications market derives from the desire to introduce competition to a market that was historically served by a government owned monopoly supplier.

“However, unlike some of these other industries regulation was seen as a transitional step that would ultimately fall away. The impact of technological change and the multi-product nature of the industry provide greater prospects for the market or segments of the market to transition to a competitive basis where reliance could be placed on the economy wide competition rules.

“Optus believes that an overriding objective of any regulatory framework for telecommunications should be to facilitate the transition to a competitive sector where the need for specific regulation falls away.”

Vodafone:

“The current overlap in responsibilities between the ACMA, the ACCC, the TIO and the Government itself needs to be addressed. The ACMA also needs to have clarity and certainty about the scope and purpose of its mandate.”

Submissions closed on 10 August, and the Department was been directed to report to Mr Turnbull by the end of the year.
                    [post_title] => Big telcos challenge government oversight
                    [post_excerpt] => Telstra, Optus and Vodafone call for self-regulation
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                    [post_content] => old phone

When the NBN comes, it will replace existing phone lines. Telephones, like most other forms of communication, have gone digital, and the traditional analogue plain old telephone system (POTS) is fast becoming a thing of the past.

The migration from the POTS to the provision of standard telephone services over the NBN has raised a number of issues, such as the necessity to ensure that emergency 000 calls are still available.

There has also been considerable controversy in the telco industry over how the Universal Service Obligations (USO) are to be addressed. The USO is a requirement that all Australians, no matter where they are located, have access to a phone service.

When the Australian telecommunications industry was deregulated in the early 1990s, the USO remained with Telstra, as the former government-owned monopoly. The government has paid Telstra to fulfil its obligations, but now rivals Optus and Vodafone have said that subsidy is anti-competitive and no longer necessary, because the NBN’s coverage will replace it.

This week the Federal Government has released a draft ‘Migration Assurance Policy’ for public comment. The Department of Communications said in a statement that the draft policy’s goals are to minimise disruption to end users when the NBN becomes the carrier of telephone lines, and to prioritise continuity of service and target vulnerable end users for assistance. Not everyone will want a broadband NBN subscription, but may still want a basic POTS phone service,

The draft policy document features a “policy statement and a framework for ensuring an effective end-to-end migration process for end users.” It also sets out the Government's expectations for the fixed-line migration process:
  • Migration should be end user focussed and industry led.
  • The provision of migration information should be timely, accurate and consistent.
  • Migration should be encouraged early in the 18 month migration window.
The statement says that a key element of the policy is “promoting active industry involvement to ensure that NBN end users, particularly those who are vulnerable, are given the opportunity to migrate well before the disconnection date, with minimal risk of unexpected interruption to their services.” The policy has been informed by the migration experiences of the first 31 NBN rollout regions, where there were examples of people having the phone services cut. Submissions on the Migration Assurance Policy consultation paper released last year, the Communications Alliance Copper Migration Processes and Solutions Working Committee and industry consultation. The Department of Communications said in its statement it will continue to work with stakeholders to refine and finalise the policy. “The policy will be updated as required over time including to address additional migration issues as they arise.” Comments on the policy paper should be sent to migration@communications.gov.au. Submissions close on 20 August 2015. The draft policy is available at: https://communications.gov.au/have-your-say/improving-transition-fixed-line-national-broadband-network [post_title] => Call for input on NBN phone migration plans [post_excerpt] => The NBN will mean the end to the Plain Old Telephone System [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => call-for-input-on-nbn-phone-migration-plans [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-07-21 11:06:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-07-21 01:06:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20672 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 19172 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-04-20 17:09:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-04-20 07:09:58 [post_content] => phone mast The three big mobile network companies have all put in proposals under the federal government’s $100 million Mobile Black Spot Programme, which aims to improve mobile phone coverage in outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australia. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have all nominated locations where they want to build new base stations or upgrade existing ones. The location of these base stations and the successful contractors will be revealed at the end of June. Paul Fletcher, Parliamentary Secretary to Communications Minister, said funding would be allocated individually to each base station and was not a “winner takes all” process. ‘The process is designed to maximise competition in two ways – between locations, and between bidders – to get as many new base stations as possible for the money,” Mr Fletcher said. It is anticipated that around 250 to 300 new base stations will be built under the four-year scheme. The Government will now begin assessing proposals for each proposed base station against the criteria, which includes: the number of kilometres of highway that a new or souped up base station would cover; the number of business and residential premises covered and the number of square kilometres in area that would benefit and whether a base station would deliver 4G. One of the program’s aims is to “maximise the choice of mobile service provider for consumers’, so applications from mobile network operators to co-build and co-locate will be looked upon favourably and given extra weighting. Mobile phone coverage is a subject close to many Australians’ hearts. Last year, the government asked the public, community representatives, businesses and local and state government to nominate areas with poor mobile phone reception and more than 6,000 locations were nominated. Victoria notched up the most reports – 2,029, followed by NSW with 1,780, Queensland with 897 complaints and Western Australia with 523. ACT-dwellers were by far the happiest with their mobile reception with only four complaints while the Northern Territory registered only 25. But the federal government is not giving the other two levels of government a free ride. It expects in-kind and or cash contributions from state and local government. So far NSW has pledge $25 million to improve mobile coverage and WA has offered to kick in $35 million and Victoria had said it will support a bid for funding under the program. But Local councils in remote and regional areas have been particularly critical of the expectations placed on them to chip into the program, especially given that those most in need of better mobile phone coverage are likely to have the lowest rate base. Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) Chief Executive Andrew Beresford-Wylie previously told Government News that although remote local councils viewed improving limited mobile phone coverage as imperative they were ill-equipped to meet match-funding demands. “Rural and remote councils are generally the least capable financially of providing co-contributions for projects,’’ Mr Beresford-Wylie said. “These communities are currently without mobile service because of the prohibitive cost of deploying the service and are financially struggling themselves. “The challenge is how to deliver services under the Mobile Coverage Programme, within the limited funding available, to those regional communities where it would otherwise be non-commercial and uneconomic for carriers to do so (otherwise it) may bypass many of these non-commercial communities.” A number of local councils have offered cash or in-kind contributions. In-kind contributions can involve access to land, power or existing infrastructure; help with civil works; planning approval or providing leasehold to a base station free or at minimal cost. According to the Department of Communications' Mobile Black Spot Programme Guidelines, in-kind or cash contributions (they are not separated in the table) have been received from: 36 NSW Councils, 2 in the Northern Territory, 33 in Queensland, 10 in South Australia, six in Tasmania, 17 in Victoria and 29 in WA. Proposals from MNOs had to include the in-kind/cash contributions the company was willing to make as well as any expected contributions from government or local communities. The Department of Communications has said before that the government's $100 million investment is expected to generate at least matching funding from industry, state and local governments and communities. Three delivery options are being discussed under the program: the first where a single mobile network operator or a consortia of MNOs builds and contributes ``significantly’’ to the cost of building base stations; the second where multiple MNOs bid for a portion of the $80 million funding; or the third option where one or more companies build, own and operate a base station or a group of base stations and allow a number of MNOs to install their network equipment. Labor has criticised the program, claiming that only 1,000 of the 6,000 mobile black spots nominated would be covered by the 250-300 new base stations slated to be built and saying that the greatest need is where there is no incentive for the market to invest. [post_title] => Big three telcos make their call on mobile black spots [post_excerpt] => Subsidised base station bonanza. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => big-three-telcos-make-their-call-on-mobile-black-spots [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-04-21 11:49:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-04-21 01:49:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=19172 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16570 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2014-10-08 21:10:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-10-08 10:10:45 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_16584" align="alignnone" width="614"]Mobile Phone Tower Plenty of political static on the line over regional mobile coverage...[/caption]   The federal government’s $100 million Mobile Black Spot Programme will leave many communities stranded with bad mobile coverage or none at all, the federal Opposition claims. Labor’s Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, said that only 1,000 of the 6,000 mobile black spots nominated by residents, councillors, community leaders and State government during eight months of public consultation would be covered by the 250-300 new base stations slated to be built. Ms Rowland said that a Department of Communication representative provided the figures at a recent Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) conference. But the federal government has said that none of 6,000 black spot reports had been verified with telephone companies or checked against their coverage maps. The government maintains that multiple black spots could be covered by one new base station. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are all expected to bid in the tendering process to build or upgrade base stations around Australia in the coming weeks. Ms Rowland, who was a senior lawyer specialising in competition and regulation in telecommunications, media and technology before she became an MP, said a close eye should be kept on the tendering process. “It is crucial that this program is competitively neutral, does not favour a single carrier and that it achieves maximum public benefit,” Ms Rowland said. “Mobile coverage in rural and regional areas is a significant issue. This is why all mobile carriers have significant investments in this space.” But she said that the greatest need was where there was no incentive for the market to invest. The government has maintained that tenders will be weighted so that telcos do not just select the most populous and profitable areas in which to build a new base station. For example, companies receive extra points in the tendering process if they can show they cover a high number of kilometres of highway or a large number of square kilometres. Local councils, in particular, are wrestling with their role in the program. While all appreciate the importance of improving mobile coverage for their communities, many remote or rural councils fear that the matched funding the government is insisting on from local councils, state governments and industry will be difficult to deliver. Contributions can be cash or in-kind. Ms Rowland said remote and rural councils were already struggling to make ends meet and some Northern Territory councils did not have tenure over their land, excluding this as an in-kind contribution. “Many local councils and shires in are a perilous financial state which has been exacerbated by the Abbott Government’s $1 billion cuts to their financial assistance grants,” Ms Rowland said. “Local government continues to be plagued by cost-shifting and revenue constraints, such in NSW which is subject to rate pegging.  For country areas, the effect is even more pronounced: councils must budget for both maintenance and depreciation for local infrastructure such as roads and bridges.” Ms Rowland has met with some rural and regional councils about their contributions to the scheme but she said they were unable to quantify their financial capacity to participate until sites were elected and costings finalised. She said some state governments were probably in a better position to take advantage of the program.  Western Australia has a specific Regional Mobile Communications Project of $80 million to address infrastructure and black spots under its Royalties for Regions scheme while Victoria will allocate $40 million to improving black spot coverage. Teresa Corbin, CEO of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), said the $100 million was “a drop in the ocean” compared to what was needed, but still applauded the government’s initiative. “To a certain extent metropolitan issues have been alleviated because of the investment in the network. But as far back as I can remember, we’ve had problems in relation to coverage in regional and remote areas because telcos view them as unprofitable areas so this is why it’s important to have government incentives,” Ms Corbin said. “Whoever is in government is going to have to allow for some kind of mobile phone coverage program in rural and regional areas. It’s a question of how to use the few dollars available. We would prioritise the areas that are the least (perceived) commercially viable for the telcos.” Although the ACCAN is not a complaints body, Ms Corbin said many of the network’s members, such as the Country Women’s Association, the Isolated Children’s and Parents’ Group and NSW Farmers had provided feedback about poor mobile reception in their area. ACCAN will shortly release a paper-based community kit, which will also be downloadable, to help individuals, governments and communities build a business case to persuade telcos to build a new base station in their area. This should be released before the tendering process begins. “The reality is that the telcos are very city-based and they don’t understand what pent-up demand might be in these areas but local government and communities do,” Ms Corbin said. “For example, the number of tourists in an area, which highways truckies are using and the demand for geo-based services from agriculture.” The community kit will include telco contact details and examples of the business cases and models that have succeeded in the past. [post_title] => Mobile Black Spots fix gets poor reception from Labor [post_excerpt] => New base stations won’t eliminate poor mobile coverage. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => labor-gives-abbotts-mobile-black-spots-programme-poor-reception [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-10-10 01:28:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-10-09 14:28:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=16570 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16545 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2014-10-07 12:00:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-10-07 01:00:17 [post_content] => Lot of mobile phones + accessories (FREE) More than 6,000 locations around Australia have been nominated by the public, local councils, state government, community representatives and businesses as having appalling mobile phone reception under the federal government’s $100 million Mobile Phone Black Spot Programme. Victoria notched up the most reports – 2,029, followed by NSW with 1,780, Queensland with 897 complaints and Western Australia with 523. ACT-dwellers were by far the happiest with their mobile reception with only four complaints while the Northern Territory registered only 25. An interactive map on the Department of Communication’s website means you can view the number of reports – which were not independently verified - by postcode, town, school, address or geographical coordinates but only until October 15, when the database will be closed and taken down. The idea is to gather more detailed information over the next week by asking people to check the locations included on the database, some of which might currently be vague, like a suburb, and suggest more specific locations, such as a street or house. A spokesman for Paul Fletcher, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, said the short timeframe was because the competitive tendering process was due to start in the next few weeks. He added that it was preceded by an eight-month public consultation to nominate mobile black spots. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone will all be vying for a piece of the action, as will specialist mobile phone infrastructure providers, which should result in between 250 to 300 new base stations. Under the selection process, each company nominates some of the database where they want to build a new base station or upgrade an existing one. Telcos will also double check the coverage of nominated locations they are interested in serving “This (tendering process) will be weighted, it won’t just cover the more populated areas,” said the spokesman. He said other factors would be taken into account, such as the number of kilometres of highway that a new or souped up base station would cover; the number of premises (business and residential) covered and the number of square kilometres in area that would benefit. Mr Fletcher has said that the database is likely to be an over-estimate of poor mobile coverage areas. “Although 6,000 locations have been nominated, this does not mean that there are 6,000 locations where a new base station is required,” Mr Fletcher said. “Initial analysis suggests that in many cases the nominated locations are within a few kilometres of another nominated location, meaning that one base station may be able to provide coverage to multiple nominated locations.” Mr Fletcher said that around 4,800 locations reported as having bad coverage had at least 30 per cent of their area within a 10km radius had coverage today. The Mobile Black Spot Programme would improve mobile coverage along major transport routes, in small communities and those at risk from natural disasters as well as communities that experienced high seasonal demand, for example, because of tourism. The Government has repeatedly insisted that its $100 million scheme will leverage an extra  $100 million in investment from state and territory governments, local councils and industry. Contributions may be cash or in-kind, for example, providing leasehold to a base station site at little or no cost, help with civil works or access to council-owned infrastructure. Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) Chief Executive Andrew Beresford-Wylie previously told Government News that although remote local councils viewed improving limited mobile phone coverage as imperative they were ill-equipped to meet match-funding demands. “Rural and remote councils are generally the least capable financially of providing co-contributions for projects,’’ Mr Beresford-Wylie said. “These communities are currently without mobile service because of the prohibitive cost of deploying the service and are financially struggling themselves.” Base station locations selected for funding will be announced in the first half of 2015 and the first base stations are slated to be rolled out in the second half of 2015. [post_title] => Revealed: Australia's worst spots for mobile phone coverage [post_excerpt] => Federal Mobile Black Spot Programme marches on [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => revealed-australias-worst-areas-mobile-phone-coverage [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-10-14 14:40:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-10-14 03:40:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=16545 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 6 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 5 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21242 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-09-02 16:02:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-02 06:02:27 [post_content] => Black Mountain Telecom Tower - 4 The Government has published the submissions to its review into tthe structure and operationselco and media regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Unsurprisingly, the big three telcos all want less regulation. The review was announced in June by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He said then the review was necessary to ensure the ACMA could “effectively deal with challenges arising from a rapidly changing communications sector.” The ACMA said it welcomed the review, acknowledging that the commercial and technological environment today is very different from when the ACMA was formed almost exactly ten years ago from the merger of the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Communications Authority on 1 July 2005. The Department of Communications has now made public the 40 submissions to the review. Unsurprisingly, Australia’s three major telcos all argue for a reduction in the ACMA’s powers and increased self-regulation, arguing that many of the ACMA’s functions should be transferred to industry. All submissions can be found here. The ACMA’s own submission focuses on its achievements, and argues that no major changes need to be made to its powers, beyond updating them to take changing technology into account. “The ACMA considers that most of the existing communications and media public policy objectives are enduring and will remain very relevant in a future communications environment. However, the method for achieving these desirable policy outcomes is likely to require revision to support future technology and service developments as well as addressing the changing risk characteristics of the global, digital communications environment.” Telstra, Optus and Vodafone all say the ACMA’s role should be reduced. Telstra: “The current regime falls short of best practice and can be improved by making greater use of coregulation and self-regulation options. In co-regulation the regulator still has a role (typically enforcing the requirements) while in self-regulation the requirements are either voluntary or subject to consequences under an industry compliance framework. “Compared to ‘black-letter’ regulatory solutions administered by regulators, Telstra considers these options can often solve problems and deliver policy outcomes more efficiently as well as making the regulation more flexible and fit-for-purpose. They offer the opportunity for at least some of the functions currently undertaken by the ACMA to be transferred to industry over time, subject to suitable compliance arrangements being established.” Optus: “In common with a number of other infrastructure based industries the need for specific regulation of the telecommunications market derives from the desire to introduce competition to a market that was historically served by a government owned monopoly supplier. “However, unlike some of these other industries regulation was seen as a transitional step that would ultimately fall away. The impact of technological change and the multi-product nature of the industry provide greater prospects for the market or segments of the market to transition to a competitive basis where reliance could be placed on the economy wide competition rules. “Optus believes that an overriding objective of any regulatory framework for telecommunications should be to facilitate the transition to a competitive sector where the need for specific regulation falls away.” Vodafone: “The current overlap in responsibilities between the ACMA, the ACCC, the TIO and the Government itself needs to be addressed. The ACMA also needs to have clarity and certainty about the scope and purpose of its mandate.” Submissions closed on 10 August, and the Department was been directed to report to Mr Turnbull by the end of the year. 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