Improved consumer protection in the telecommunications sector, streamlined commercial TV Codes of Practice and planning for the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G mobile broadband were some of the key elements of the year’s work outlined in the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s annual report for 2015–16, tabled today in parliament.
‘As we move into our second decade and Australians interact with digital communications and content in changing ways, we will continue to work with industry and citizens to solve novel problems and to mitigate new risks,’ Acting Chairman Richard Bean said.
‘2015–16's work demonstrated the wide range of the ACMA’s activities and responsibilities,’ he added. ‘From long-term planning projects and in-depth research, to broadcasting investigations and telecommunications consumer issues, spectrum management and day-to-day tasks such as fixing TV reception problems or granting licences, the ACMA continues to demonstrate its commitment to communicating, facilitating and regulating in the public interest.’
In November 2015, the ACMA registered a new Commercial Television Code of Practice that goes some way to reflect the big changes in the ways digital content can now be viewed. The code contains a range of community safeguards updated for this new environment and is expressed in a much simpler, more user-friendly form.
Also last November, the Reconnecting the Customer—Estimation of benefits report confirmed that since 2012's Reconnecting the Customer inquiry and subsequent revised Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP Code), there has been improved customer service, reduced complaints, increased compliance and reduced bill shock.
The analysis found that Australian consumers have benefited to the tune of $545 million each year since the code’s registration.
An updated version of the TCP Code was registered in December 2015 with streamlined information provisions for consumers. Compliance and monitoring arrangements for smaller telecommunications providers were streamlined in March.
The ACMA released The Internet of Things and the ACMA’s areas of focus in November 2015, as part of our Emerging issues in media and communications series. This report identified areas for attention likely to be important to IoT developments in the short and long term, such as the demand for spectrum and supply of telephone numbers.
In the following month, changes were proposed to remove technical barriers to the operation of narrowband low-powered wireless networks to provide easier access to spectrum for IoT uses. These changes have now been made.
In January 2016, an occasional consultation paper, 5G and mobile network developments—Emerging issues, looked into developments in 5G mobile and the opportunities that this evolution in mobile technology offers the Australian community through innovative use of mobile broadband and machine-to-machine communications.
The release of a new mobile broadband strategy and work plan in February 2016 capped a decade-long program of work to accommodate growth in mobile broadband traffic. In place of rigid quantitative targets, a more dynamic approach was adopted to identify and plan spectrum for mobile broadband. This change in approach allows more flexible and responsive action in the rapidly changing spectrum management environment.
In February, an auction concluded for regional 1800 MHz band spectrum, raising $543.5 million for the Commonwealth. This spectrum provides scope for increased availability of 4G LTE services in regional Australia.
And in May, upgrades to the Triple Zero (000) service made by mobile carriers and emergency services forming the ACMA’s Emergency Call Services Advisory Committee enabled improved location information to be automatically provided about the location of a mobile caller to Triple Zero.
The ACMA meanwhile continues to play a central role in the implementation of the government’s Spectrum Review recommendations, which will see changes made in the roles of the minister, the ACMA and industry participants in a new spectrum management framework.
Other ACMA activities at a glance during the year are available here.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or email@example.com.
Media release 35/2016 - 13 October