Comms Alliance seeks regulatory change under Coalition

John Stanton says some regulation was put into place to encourage competition in the 1990s when it was duopoly environment, but it is no longer relevant

John Stanton, CEO at the Communications Alliance

John Stanton, CEO at the Communications Alliance

The Communications Alliance is looking towards the Coalition to remove some “redundant” regulation in the telco industry, which could help to lower costs for the sector.

John Stanton, CEO at the Communications Alliance, told Computerworld Australia the industry body, whose members include Telstra, Optus, iiNet and Alcatel-Lucent, will be meeting with Turnbull’s office today “to discuss a range of issues.”

“We’ll be trying to inject some ideas about where some sensible changes could take place. There’s a raft of redundant regulation on the books in our view which could be removed and which [could] lower costs for the industry and therefore, for consumers,” Stanton said.

“I have no doubt that Mr Turnbull will cast an investigative eye over the regulatory framework and look for ways that it can be improved.”

He said some regulation was put in place to encourage competition in the 1990s when it was a duopoly environment. However, he said this regulation is no longer relevant in today’s changed telco environment.

For example, the requirement for timed local calls has been left behind by different plans and usage and the way calls are charged these days, he said.

"There’s a number of examples of that type of regulation that probably should have been removed some time ago but hasn’t been,” Stanton said.

The National Broadband Network (NBN) will also be a key issue for the Communications Alliance and how the organisation will work with the Coalition on implementing its fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) version of the NBN.

Under the Coalition, 71 per cent of Australia would have FFTN; 22 per cent would have fibre-to-the-premise; 4 per cent would have fixed wireless; and 3 per cent would have satellite.

This compares to Labor’s plan where 93 per cent of Australia would receive fibre-to-the-home and the rest would receive satellite or fixed wireless.

Earlier this year, Mike Quigley, chief executive of NBN Co, who has now resigned from the position, announced he was calling for a study from the Communications Alliance to decide what the best technology was to roll out high-speed broadband across Australia.

The study did not go ahead, but Stanton said the Communications Alliance would be “happy to assist” with reviews the Coalition has said it would carry out.

This includes a commercial review examining how quickly the NBN could meet objectives; an audit on Labor’s NBN; and an independent study to assess Australia’s telco and broadband needs for the future, alongside a cost benefit analysis.

The Communications Alliance is expected to be involved in developing standardised interfaces and processes for retail service providers, working with NBN Co and private operators, with the Coalition previously stating it would ask the organisation to address this issue.

Stanton confirmed the Communications Alliance would work with the Coalition on these processes, stating it would just be an extension of its existing role.

Stanton said there will also be a need to ensure that service providers will be able to co-ordinate with NBN Co effectively without the need to “reinvent the wheel” for all the different technologies a Coalition NBN would comprise.

“We’re already doing this in a range of areas. For example, we’ve been looking at what arrangements ought to be in place for the local number portability in an NBN environment because that equation changes,” Stanton said.

The Communications Alliance has developed arrangements to allow consumers to transfer between providers once they have migrated to the NBN.

It is also working on how to facilitate the migration of over-the-top devices that will operate on the NBN. For example, personal medical alarms, with concern about whether the devices would work on the fibre optic network.

“It is a huge task to make major changes to a project as complex as the NBN,” Stanton said.

“The industry remains very enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with Malcolm and his team. There’s a lot to be done.”

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Tags National Broadband Network (NBN)Communications AllianceJohn Stanton

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