20 July 2007
ACMA grants first permit to install a communications submarine cable
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has granted Office des Postes et Télécommunications (OPT) a permit to install a communications submarine cable between Sydney and Noumea, New Caledonia.
The permit is the first of its kind to be granted by ACMA since Schedule 3A to the Telecommunications Act 1997 took effect in August 2005. Schedule 3A requires carriers to obtain a permit to install a new submarine cable in Australian waters, and also enables ACMA to establish protection zones over nationally significant submarine cables.
Submarine cables are the underwater networks which carry about 99 per cent of Australia’s international voice and data traffic. The OPT cable project will support the ongoing economic development of the region by offering high-speed connectivity to New Caledonia.
Further information about permits is on the ACMA website.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager on (02) 9334 7980.
It is an offence to install a submarine cable without a permit, to breach conditions of a permit, or to fail to comply with a direction from ACMA to remove an unlawfully installed cable.
Schedule 3A of the Telecommunications Act 1997 imposes standard conditions on all permit holders, including a condition that the carrier take all reasonable steps to ensure that the installation of the cable causes as little detriment, inconvenience and damage as is practicable. ACMA may also specify conditions on all permit holders in regulations—at this stage, no conditions have been specified.
ACMA may also place conditions on specific permits, and has placed two conditions on the OPT permit. One condition is that the installation of the cable must be within a band that extends half a nautical mile either side of the route position listed for the cable. The second condition is that the permit holder must provide the holder of an offshore petroleum exploration permit with 21 days’ notice of its installation activities. The OPT cable will traverse an offshore petroleum exploration permit area.
Permit holders must continue to comply with state laws applying to coastal waters, which extend up to three nautical miles, or approximately 5.6 kilometres, from the low-water mark.
The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Protection of Submarine Cables and Other Measures) Act 2005 commenced on 23 August 2005, and inserted Schedule 3A into the Telecommunications Act 1997.