Under the Telecommunications Act 1997, there are two types of persons or organisations that can provide carriage services (telecommunications services) to the public: carriers and carriage service providers (CSPs).
Carriers are persons who own a telecommunications network unit to supply carriage services to the public.
CSPs use a telecommunications network unit to supply carriage services to the public.
Carriage services include services for carrying communications, for example telephone services, Internet access services and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.
An owner of a telecommunications network unit used to supply a carriage service to the public must hold a carrier licence, unless an exemption applies or a nominated carrier declaration (NCD) is in place for that unit.
Carrier licences are granted by Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) under section 56 of the Telecommunications Act. A telecommunications network unit is defined in Part 2 of that Act.
An NCD allows the owner of a network unit that is used to supply carriage services to the public to nominate a licensed carrier to assume responsibility for all carrier-related obligations for that network unit. In turn, an NCD allows a licensed carrier to accept regulatory responsibility for the network unit on behalf of the owner of the network unit.
The licensed carrier applies to ACMA for the NCD. The applicant must be able to provide evidence that it will be in a position to comply with all the obligations under the Telecommunications Act in its capacity as the nominated carrier for the network unit. Where an NCD is in force, the owner of the network unit does not require a carrier licence.
Carriage service providers (CSPs)
A CSP is person that supplies a carriage service to the public using a telecommunications network unit. CSPs can include organisations that resell time on a carrier network for phone calls, provide access to the internet (Internet Service Providers) or provide telephone services over the internet (VoIP service providers). CSPs are not required to obtain a licence from ACMA to supply a carriage service to the public.