Posted January 13, 2018 16:02:28 As the Federal Government’s Communications and Media Minister Stephen Conroy prepares to unveil his Government’s plan to introduce a new national telecommunications code, one of the key issues he is keen to stress is the need for IT standards to be modernised.
In his first major policy speech on Wednesday, Mr Conroy will argue that the Government is in the midst of a major transformation in telecommunications, and that the Communications and Marketing Standards (CMS) Act, passed in 2016, has failed to protect consumers and the public interest.
“It is an opportunity to create a modern communications framework that has been the subject of sustained public debate and a series of industry-led reforms,” Mr Conry said.
The Minister said the current framework, which has “only been in place for a short period of time”, is not sufficient to address the growing need for greater transparency in the industry and the need to ensure the quality and security of telecommunications services.
He will also outline the Government’s plans to introduce an updated code, including a new telecommunications certification system that will ensure the industry’s communications standards are up to date.
A key issue with the current system, Mr Concroy said, was that it did not give the Government adequate powers to monitor and monitor to the same degree as a regulator or regulator in a jurisdiction.
Under the proposed new system, the Communications Industry Ombudsman will be appointed by the Government to oversee complaints, which will then be referred to the Federal Communications Commission.
But Mr Conries concerns about the current process have been raised by many stakeholders in the telecommunications industry.
Many of the complaints are based on the Government not enforcing its telecommunications regulations.
One of the major concerns is that the new system will require an audit of telecommunications providers to ensure that they are compliant with their own policies, which are still largely ignored by the industry.
“There is a need for the Government and industry to collaborate to ensure telecommunications operators comply with the CMA standards,” Mr Concry said, referring to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
“We are proposing to change the CAA so that it is more in line with the NTIA’s own standard.”
“CMA has not been doing a good job of protecting consumers and ensuring that the standards they are required to uphold are upheld by the NTIAC.”
However, Mr McNamara, the communications analyst and author of the 2016 CMA reforms, said the new framework would not do anything to address issues that had arisen from the previous system.
Mr McNamara said the Government was “trying to move away from what we call the antiquated system of regulating the telecommunications sector”, with the aim of “getting back to a modern telecommunications framework that delivers a better service for Australians”.
“We will not be moving away from a robust and effective regulatory framework,” he said.
“That has been a legacy of the CBA.
This is a very exciting time in the future of telecommunications, but it needs to be done in a way that is compatible with our current and future needs.”
In the meantime, he said, the Government had a responsibility to ensure “we don’t lose sight of what is important” about telecommunications, such as ensuring consumers can enjoy a secure and reliable communications experience.
“We can’t have a free market without standards and regulations,” he told the ABC.
As a result of the new model being introduced, he argued that consumers should expect a “greater certainty about their communications experience”.
“This is going to be a major issue,” he added.
While Mr McNamaras comments are in line a number of other industry experts, Mr McBride, the president of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), said there was no way the new regulatory framework could be applied across all Australian jurisdictions, and would be inconsistent with current standards.
“The CMA and NTIA have failed to adequately meet the needs of consumers,” he noted.
“[It] is a major concern that the regulatory framework is so complex and there is no way for consumers to know what is happening behind the scenes.”
Mr McBride said the CMCAs existing standards are not sufficiently robust to ensure consumers were not being forced to upgrade their telecommunications service.
However he acknowledged the new national standards would be “significant” and would likely include new requirements on operators, including requirements for telcos to be licensed in a number for which there is not currently a regulator.
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