Carriers intending to install new submarine cables in Australian waters must now apply to the Australian Communications and Media Authority for a permit.
It is an offence to install a submarine cable without a permit or to breach the conditions of a permit.
Submarine cables are the underwater networks that carry about 99 percent of Australia's international voice and data traffic.
ACMA now has procedures in place to issue permits to carriers wishing to install cables between Australia and other countries. The authority can issue permits for cable installation in Australian waters (other than within the three nautical mile offshore state or territory coastal waters) in areas that are not designated as submarine cable protection zones. These permits are called non-protection zone installation permits.
Carriers seeking to install cables in non-protection zones will still be required to comply with state and territory laws applicable to the installation of cables within coastal waters.
ACMA may also issue permits for cables to be installed in specially declared protection zones. Protection zones, which have not yet been declared by ACMA, are to encompass both Australian waters and state-controlled coastal waters and can only be declared in association with cables deemed to be of national significance.
Carriers seeking to install cables within areas declared as protection zones will be exempt from certain state and territory laws.
ACMA will consider the declaration of protection zones over key submarine cables later this year, following an extensive public consultation process.
The new measures have come into force after legislation was introduced last year to protect Australia's submarine cables (the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Protection of Submarine Cables and Other Measures) Act 2005).
The release of the new procedures and charges for the installation of submarine cables in non-protection zones is the first step in implementing the new regime.
Application forms for non-protection zone installation permits are available on the ACMA Web site.
Information about the new regime is available at firstname.lastname@example.org