Challenges for regulation in the next generation of applications and services | ACMA

Challenges for regulation in the next generation of applications and services

Developments in next generation applications and services (word) and (pdf) is the fourth in a series of reports to examine the pressures of technology changes and developments on current regulatory arrangements. It also provides insight into how a new wave of innovative applications and services is changing the way we interact with one another.

Key findings from the report include:

  • There is a shift to all internet protocol (IP)-based or next generation networks which support converged applications and services.
  • Next generation applications built on connectivity are primarily based on the 'always-on' and readily accessible concept.
  • An opportunistic environment has emerged where new applications can be implemented first on a small scale to test the market, and then globally, with reduced resources and risk. This is leading to a growth in diversity of applications and services for both users and providers.
  • As next generation access becomes increasingly prevalent, a convergence of communications, media and internet-based applications is occurring at the application and service level.
  • Collaborative applications rely on the high-speed network connections of next generation access services along with cloud computing for data storage and management.
  • The growth in use of multi-function devices, which are always connected to provide access to multiple applications, adds to an already complex service environment.
  • Next generation access technologies pose various challenges for current regulation, including:
    • accommodating the new service features and applications made available
    • the fragmentation of service components across different service providers and service agreements
    • innovative service delivery arrangements.
  • Intelligent devices such as smartphones and tablets can activate decisions made under different circumstances months or years after a user has installed an application, and connections can be created without user awareness. This smart functionality tests the bounds of users' reasonable awareness and informed consent provision.

Regulatory issues identified in the report are consistent with those raised in the ACMA's recent research paper Broken Concepts: the Australian communications legislative landscape, which examines how the process of convergence has systematically broken, or significantly strained many of the legislative concepts of current communications and media regulation.

The ACMA continues to monitor the developments and convergence of next generation applications and services, and welcomes comments on this report.

Last updated: 15 August 2016