Federal Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Senator Helen Coonan has announced the government will support the introduction of a new telecomms number range to facilitate the development of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.
The minister released a government report into the policy and regulatory implications of VoIP services which concluded there is no immediate need for any changes to the regulatory framework and recommends some small adjustments to existing numbering, emergency services and customer service regulation to accommodate VoIP services.
A new non-geographic number range will be established for VoIP services to allow providers to offer VoIP services which are not location specific so a customer can keep the same number when moving location.
"VoIP technology is one of a range of emerging next-generation services transforming global communications as carriers and consumers take advantage of cost savings and integration with video and data applications," Coonan said.
"Innovative VoIP services are increasingly becoming available to Australian consumers. VoIP has the potential to offer consumers benefits in terms of price and convenience. By establishing a new number range for VoIP services, providers will be able to market the unique features of their services without existing phone number information being compromised."
Coonan said the government wants to support VoIP services and ensure the regulatory environment does not inhibit development.
"By committing to implementation of the report's recommendations the government will provide regulatory clarity in the short- to medium-term and help to promote a competitive communications environment," she said.
To ensure that consumers are aware of the choices on offer and the differences between a VoIP service and a traditional telephone service, public information will be developed in cooperation with industry. The Australian Communications Industry Forum will host a VoIP Forum in Sydney on December 6, which will focus on provider cooperation, including support, fault handling, billing, and security.