Telco and media reforms continue

Thursday, 11 April, 2013

Robustly protecting telco consumers, ensuring telco network performance, making further spectrum available for 4G mobile broadband, refreshing broadcasting content safeguards and a raft of initiatives to support users in a networked digital world are the centrepiece of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s current work, according to a wide ranging speech by its chairman, Chris Chapman.

Chapman told the Communication’s Day Summit that the ACMA was strongly championing a spectrum plan which portended a $30 smartphone handset and potential economic benefits to Australian consumers and the country’s GDP of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Chapman said early signs from the ACMA’s renewed telco consumer work were very encouraging, with a 20% drop in complaints. The industry had stopped using confusing terms, such as capped and free, and had added standard charging information to mobile and internet plans. And according to Chapman, the majority of large and medium operators had rolled out new easy-to-understand Critical Information Summaries.

“If you’re a participant in this part of the communications business and think (hope) that the ACMA has run out of energy, better luck in a different sector - the ACMA will continue to track over time the impact of the changes,” Chapman warned.

However, he said rising complaints about mobile networks’ performance suggested consumer expectations were not being met in that space and extended an invitation to the industry and consumer groups to improve transparency of information around performance.

“The ACMA will hold a mobile network performance summit late 2013, bringing together industry and consumers to develop solutions which meet consumer needs,” Chapman said.

Chapman said the ACMA had launched an NBN portal to draw together the multiple threads of the ACMA’s work around the NBN Co’s promised benefits from the high-speed broadband network.

Other initiatives highlighted in the speech included:

  • ‘First principles’ review to establish what content benchmarks media audiences are looking to safeguard as delivery platforms change.
  • The release of a paper, Regulatory strategies for a network economy and society, to better respond to emerging areas of concern around digital content, identity and reputation.
  • Research to inform responses to protecting personal data, mobile app issues such as consent, personal and financial risk and privacy, the deployment of cloud computing and new wireless technologies, such as near field communications.
  • Modelling to forecast the economic mobile technology impacts of various spectrum supply scenarios.
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