2015 TLN - summary of changes | ACMA

2015 TLN - summary of changes

In 2015, following public consultation, the ACMA remade the Telecommunications Labelling Notice and 11 new ACMA technical standards:

The TLN replaced the Telecommunications Labelling (Customer Equipment and Customer Cabling) Notice 2001 (the 2001 TLN).

Summary of changes

The TLN introduced a number of important changes to the telecommunications customer equipment and customer cabling regulatory arrangements to ensure the requirements imposed on suppliers are proportional to the risks associated with the supply and connection of non-compliant telecommunications customer equipment and customer cabling. The changes include:

  • reducing the number of categories used to describe the applicable standard and record keeping requirements for specified customer equipment
  • increasing the scope for suppliers to rely on overseas compliance documentation to demonstrate compliance with Australia requirements
  • reducing record keeping requirements for customer equipment used in the supply of a public mobile telecommunications service (PMTS), where the equipment is not used for voice telephony.
  • removing outdated and redundant clauses
  • removing ACMA technical standards that no longer have any regulatory effect, or are no longer required due to technological obsolescence
  • introducing ACMA technical standards that give effect to new or revised referenced Communications Alliance or Standards Australia industry technical standards upon the date of publication of the industry standard.

While there are some structural differences between the TLN and the 2001 TLN, the overall regulatory obligations in relation to testing for compliance with technical standards, labelling and record keeping are largely maintained.

The TLN does not increase the scope of the regulatory arrangements. Equipment is only subject to the TLN if the equipment falls within the scope of one or more applicable technical standards. 

Reduction of categories

Since the 2001 TLN was made, the number of applicable interface categories (i.e. the basis upon which the notice applies to particular equipment) had increased significantly, contributing to the complexity of the instrument. The TLN reduces the number of interface categories from 46 technology-specific categories to 4 general categories:

  • Customer equipment that is proposed to be connected to a fixed telecommunications network, other than those used to supply a PMTS or satellite services. This category includes fixed line customer equipment, analogue telephones, VoIP telephones, DSL modems and ISDN equipment.
  • Customer equipment that is proposed to be connected to a public mobile telecommunications network, where the equipment is intended for use in the supply of a standard telephone service. This category includes mobile telephones and smartphones.
  • Customer equipment that is proposed to be connect to a public mobile telecommunications network, but is not intended for use in the supply of a standard telephone service. This category includes tablets, mobile non-voice communications (data) equipment and machine to machine (M2M) devices (e.g. ATMs, vending machines).
  • Customer equipment that is proposed to be connected to a telecommunications network that consists solely of satellite-based facilities.

Broadening the description for customer equipment within a category shifts the focus to the functionality of the customer equipment rather than closely defined network interfaces. This change reduces the regulatory burden on suppliers by making it easier to determine the requirements that apply to specific items of customer equipment and customer cabling.

Risk management and compliance levels

The TLN reduces the compliance levels from three in the 2001 TLN (i.e. compliance levels 3, 2 and 1) to two risk levels (i.e. high-risk and not high-risk). This more appropriately reflects the risks associated with the health and safety of consumers and people working on a telecommunications network. 

The different risk levels relate to different record keeping requirements for specific standards (i.e. rather than the equipment itself). That is, the record keeping requirements for an item of customer equipment will depend on the standards that apply to that item of equipment, and whether those standards are high-risk or not high-risk.

The two levels of risk are:

  • High-risk – these ACMA standards address electrical and acoustic safety, as well as technical standards associated with the provision of voice telephony (e.g. interoperability, emergency call access and network integrity). The Declaration of Conformity (DoC) for compliance of this customer equipment is based on particular documentary evidence proportional to the higher risk (for example, test reports from accredited testing bodies, certification body statements); and
  • Not high-risk – these ACMA standards have lesser documentary evidence requirements. A supplier can complete a DoC for compliance of this customer equipment based on a wide range of documentary evidence, provided that the declarant can be reasonably satisfied that the item complies with the applicable ACMA standard.

The table in Schedule 1 of the TLN specifies which ACMA standards are high-risk standards.

Record keeping requirements

The TLN increases the flexibility available to suppliers in choosing the compliance documentation to demonstrate compliance with the applicable ACMA technical standard. Under the 2001 TLN, the compliance levels for an ACMA technical standard affected the documentation a supplier had to obtain to demonstrate compliance with the standard.

The TLN only specifies particular documentation for those ACMA technical standards that relate to health and safety, and the provision of voice telephony services (i.e. ‘high-risk standards’). For the other ACMA technical standards, suppliers have greater flexibility to choose the documentation (including overseas compliance documentation) that best demonstrates that the item supplied complies with the standard.

Transitional arrangements

The TLN incorporates transitional arrangements for customer equipment and customer cabling that is labelled in accordance with the 2001 TLN. The transition period is two years. During the transition period, a supplier may choose to label an item of customer equipment or customer cabling in accordance with either the 2001 TLN or the TLN. 

 Date of application of label to individual item of equipment

 Which notice applies

 Prior to commencement of TLN 2001 TLN
 During two-year transition period TLN or 2001 TLN
 After two-year transition period TLN

The important date is the date that the label is applied to an individual item of equipment. If the item has been labelled as per the scenarios described above, it can be supplied to market. 

The effect of transitional arrangements is to allow a supplier to continue to supply an item at any time, without being in breach of the TLN, if the item has been labelled in accordance with the 2001 TLN.

ACMA technical standards 

The ACMA has made 11 new technical standards. Each ACMA standard revokes and replaces a technical standard or standards with the same (or substantially similar) subject matter. Consistent with current practice, each ACMA standard references an industry technical standard published by Communications Alliance or Standards Australia.

The new ACMA technical standards provide for the automatic referencing of changes to the underlying industry standard.  That is, each ACMA standard:

  • automatically adopts a specified industry standard as in force at a specified time relevant to the item (i.e. the time the item is manufactured in Australia, imported or modified) rather than as in force at the time the ACMA standard is made. The provision allows for the next replacement and any amendments to the specified industry standard to be automatically adopted by the ACMA standard. This will reduce ‘delay costs’ for industry by removing any delay between the publication of a new industry standard and the adoption of that standard in the ACMA regulatory arrangements
  • includes transitional (grandfathering) arrangements that allow for the continued supply of any items that comply with earlier versions of, or the predecessor to, the industry standard without the need for retesting against the newly incorporated version of the industry standard
  • allows for a more flexible transitional period when industry standards are amended or replaced. The provision provides Communications Alliance with the flexibility to specify an alternative transition period in its industry standard, which will displace the standard two year transition period specified in the ACMA standard.

Last updated: 10 February 2016