Speech by ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman, CommsDay Summit, Sydney, 18 April 2012

Like this? Share it with your network

Share
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Be the first to comment
    Be the first to like this
No Downloads

Views

Total Views
842
On Slideshare
842
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0

Actions

Shares
Downloads
2
Comments
0
Likes
0

Embeds 0

No embeds

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
    No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. CommsDay SummitSpeech by Chris ChapmanChairman and Chief ExecutiveAustralian Communications and Media AuthorityWednesday 18 April, 2012, SydneyCHECK ON DELIVERYSorry Grahame, no big announcements today, but that’s simply because we have anAuthority meeting tomorrow!The reality is, however, that major initiatives are coming thick and fast. And, forreasons that should be clear by the end of my remarks this morning, 2012 will be ablockbuster!So, I am going to try and consolidate a little on a number of those major initiativesacross our telecommunications, broadcasting, spectrum and online responsibilities (abrief ‘State of the Nation’ from an ACMA perspective, the ‘tips of the iceberg’, if youlike). Or not so brief—the long version of what I’ll touch on this morning runs for 52minutes (which would have tested patience just a tad) … so I’ll release the longerversion later this morning.What may be less apparent is that I will be doing so in a number of these areasthrough the lens of or as a result of the dynamic of convergence, which as you will beaware is currently very topical.To recap, the ACMA was specifically created as a ‘converged’ regulator, to bringtogether the converging threads of telecommunications, broadcasting,radiocommunications and the internet. We do so now in the diverse, complex andendlessly evolving media and communications landscape, and continue to bechallenged to adapt and, to be frank, to reinvent ourselves.It has also been clear to us at the ACMA for quite some time that there is a collectionof problematic ‘broken concepts’ amongst the details of Australian communication andmedia regulation.There are four core principal acts—to which the agency responds, and they are nowdecades old and, in some cases, are becoming increasingly difficult to apply in aconverged communications and media environment.The age of these Acts – and the legislative constructs therein—is perhaps mostusefully illustrated by the observation that they were made before the internet wasestablished in Australia.In August last year, we released Broken concepts: The Australian communicationslegislative landscape which highlighted the ever-increasing strain on old legislative and acma | 1
  • 2. regulatory concepts struggling with new technology, and contributed tellingly to theConvergence Review deliberations.In my view, an important aspect of the convergence debate is that ‘convergence’ itselfis not a stable concept … but that’s a discussion for another day. Suffice it to say, thatthe original concepts of convergence stemmed from digitalisation, which during thenineties broke the nexus between the shape of content and the container whichcarried it—for example a voice call was no longer solely defined by being carried on aplain old telephone network.An important digitalisation role the ACMA has played over the last five years has beenassisting the government and industry with the digital switchover of free-to-air TV. Thisprocess is freeing digital dividend spectrum previously required for analog TVbroadcast—and the ACMA has a significant role in realising that dividend.TV digitisation and restackBefore I update you on TV digitalisation and restack, certainly two major pieces ofACMA work, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the transformation in televisionviewing they are contributing to.Ever since its inception in 1956, television has been characterised by differentnumbers of channels between geographical areas, with broadcasters in metropolitanareas periodically raising the bar and regional and remote viewers in the position oftrying to catch up. The consequences can be seen in this admittedly oversimplifiedsnapshot of service numbers by geographical area in 2008—over-simplified, becausemany of the terrestrial TV viewers in that enormous yellow area (slide 5) had accessonly to three or four analog television channels.By the end of 2012 or thereabouts, it will look like this (slide 6).Once digitisation is complete, every single household in Australia should have theopportunity to receive the same menu of advanced free-to-air television services. Allthat should differ is the local content—and the means of delivery.Two recent government initiatives have contributed to this outcome. First, the ViewerAccess Satellite Television service now offers viewers in areas without adequateterrestrial coverage the full ensemble of standard definition and HD televisionchannels. Meanwhile, commercial television broadcasters in most ‘underserved’markets have secured government funding under the Additional Services AssistanceProgram (ASAP) to provide the full suite of digital commercial television broadcastingservices available to metropolitan viewers.The ACMA is not the only player in the digitisation space—the organisation that thegeneral public may be most conscious of is the Digital Switchover Team, part of theDBCDE, and its excellent MySwitch website. But look behind MySwitch and you’ll finda series of critical ongoing ACMA roles.Firstly, over a number of years the ACMA has been developing digital channel plans,the necessary regulatory framework and issuing licenses for around 1700 digitaltelevision services operating at over 400 transmission sites. Ultimately, over 2,500digital services at 600 plus sites are expected by the completion of digitisation.While the ACMA’s key role in digitisation planning work is largely unknown outside ofthe broadcasting community, the ACMA’s coverage evaluation program (or CEP) thatcompares digital to analog TV coverage, is contributing in a very direct way to thehighly successful DST—run community assistance program’s website. The now inexcess of 130,000 CEP field measurements of analog and digital TV coverage takenat near on 18,000 locations across Australia is an unprecedented exercise in2 | acma
  • 3. determining the ‘ground truth’ of digital TV rollout in contrast to the more normaldependence on purely computer modelling. The CEP represent world’s best practiceand plays a major, though largely unseen, part in the success of the government’sswitchover programs.The ACMA also plays a key role in the digital TV safety net that is the Viewer AccessSatellite Television (or VAST system) that ensure that every Australian (regardless oflocation) is able to access all the benefits of digital television. The ACMA registers theConditional Access Scheme that is used to determine the validity of request to accessthe satellite service and also assess complaints from the community if there areconcerns over access. Indeed, we have established a Division of the Authority to dealwith this workload.Once terrestrial TV services are re-stacked into a block configuration, the revolutionshould be complete. What is sometimes less appreciated is that re-stack should alsoleave television planning in better shape, with significant long-term benefits fortelevision viewers.This is because of the ACMA’s decision last year to adopt a ‘block’ planning approachto the post-restack configuration of TV channels-instead of the traditional approach,which would have seen restack accomplished with the ‘minimum possible’ moves.While strongly supported by the commercial broadcasters, the benefits of blockplanning, and importantly the costs, required extensive analysis by the ACMA toconfirm.In coming to its decision in support of block planning, the ACMA found little differencebetween planning approaches in terms of costs and disruption but identified that blockplanning has modest but real long-term benefits.These benefits include the most equitable arrangement possible in terms of servicecoverage—meaning for the viewer that if they receive one service they almostcertainly will receive them all. In addition viewer antenna arrangements will besimplified—in the future no-one will need both a VHF and UHF antenna—one or theother will suffice.Instead of historical approaches that viewed each service as a separate entity, thenew reception arrangements are increasingly treating free-to-air television as a singleplatform, available to everyone through a single device. Viewed from the past, thislooks like perfection.The interesting question is what it might make possible in the future.The trouble with achieving perfection is that television won’t stand still. There’s alwayssomething better.Before the 2001 commencement of Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting inAustralia, the government and broadcasters assessed the competing technicalstandards of the day and chose DVB-T from the DVB family of open standards.Adoption of DVB has served Australia well. From its European origins, DVB has beenextensively adopted worldwide, benefitting Australians through economies of scale inthe manufacture of both receivers and head-end equipment.Combined with the allocation of a full, 7 MHz channel to each broadcaster in eacharea, the choice of DVB-T and MPEG-2 has delivered a terrestrial free-to-air networkthat is already able to deliver the high definition (HD) services that some overseastelevision audiences are only now experiencing through the introduction of laterversions of these technologies. acma | 3
  • 4. In January this year the ACMA released a discussion-paper aimed at ‘starting theconversation’ about future technical evolution of free-to-air TV.Use of MPEG-4 alone could, we estimate, halve the bandwidth required for a standarddefinition TV service from 4–6 Mbit/s to 2–3 Mbit/s, potentially doubling the capacity ofbroadcaster multiplexes. Use of DVB-T2 as well would offer further transmissionefficiencies of 30–50 per cent.As you’d expect from a conversation-starter, an important theme of the ACMA’sdiscussion-paper was checking the facts. We also asked a few basic questions:1. Should the ACMA do anything to meet the challenge of ever-improving technical standards?2. What issues does technological evolution raise and is there pressure for change in Australia?3. What are the potential options for promoting standards migration and how might they be implemented?Certainly no one is looking for disruption, in the short-term. The purpose ofcommencing early consultation on standards evolution was to identify what, if any,short- to medium-term interventions may yield benefits for viewers and industry in thelong term.The period for submissions closed in March, and will be publishing them all shortly.The micro-economic reform embedded in this broadcasting space sees the ‘re-farming’ of broadcasting services band (BSB) spectrum from 694MHz to 820GHz, withthe sale of spectrum licences and the consolidation of all broadcasting services in theremaining BSB UHF bands and VHF Band III.The ACMA is currently progressing well towards the digital dividend auction. The 700MHz and 2.5 GHz combined auction will be the biggest spectrum auction in a decadein Australia and offers the potential for new and faster mobile broadband services tobe delivered using the spectrum.Last week, the ACMA published the draft rules for the digital dividend auction.Publishing these draft rules is a key milestone for the ACMA in preparing for theauction. It is important to note that useful comments we received from stakeholders ata series of informal consultation seminars in November last year led to adjustments inour approach to parts of the rules. During our informal consultation process, submittershighlighted the need for certainty about when they would have access to spectrum inthe 700 MHz band, and what level of detail they will receive about this before theauction.Once finalised, the draft rules will provide a sound legal basis for the auction. Thesewill describe the spectrum products that are being offered and set out the rules for theconduct of the auction.I‘m comforted that we have received positive feedback from stakeholders on our openand transparent approach in our preparation for the auction to date, and this is theapproach we intend to continue through the lead up to the auction, through tolicensing, and beyond.We will be hosting a webinar next Tuesday (24 April), which will provide theopportunity for interested parties to ask questions regarding the draft rules.4 | acma
  • 5. The ACMA will be publishing another discussion paper in the second quarter of thisyear on licence commencement matters, including when the spectrum will becomeavailable seeking views on, amongst other things, the optimal timing for the newlicences to commence.The ACMA remains on track in its internal preparation for a November Auction.It is important, however, that you are aware that ACMA support of the Digital Dividendstretches beyond our shores.Recently I decided to send two of my most senior engineers to attend meetings in theregion and beyond. One is focussing on Indonesia while the other will travel to Chile.The success of the Region 3 Digital Dividend, which was largely an Australianinitiative, will depend on how strongly it is taken up. There are other nations who wouldprefer that their plans were adopted (most European nations, primarily France). Theirplans simply do not suit Australia, so if others in our region were to adopt them it wouldbode badly for not only international connectivity of Australian systems but for thevalue of the spectrum itself.At the recent World Radio Conference (WRC-12), Region One (European) countriessucceeded in having the same spectrum allocated to them as we have in Australia.This is in addition to their existing digital dividend. My staff at the WRC worked hard onthis issue, firstly ensuring the timing was right so that equipment in our region wouldbe available so as to encourage others to take up our plan, but my staff also workedtirelessly lobbying others on the benefits of our plan.Closer to home, Indonesia (with its rising economy of more than 800 million people) isamongst a group of Administrations considering the adoption of the European digitaldividend plan. If this were to happen it would have a negative effect on the value of theAustralian (and Region 3) digital dividend as it would reduce the economies of scale ofequipment manufactured to that band plan.And why Chile? Because in that region the same spectrum is available as in ours.Unfortunately, there the US has adopted a ‘bespoke’ planning arrangement thatmeans US equipment (such as the latest iPad) does not currently work in Australia.We don’t always see US planning arrangements as ideal.Again, at WRC my staff worked with the South American administrations extolling thevirtues of a carefully planned allocation in alignment with the Region 3 arrangements,and possibly may have had some success with many of these countries.The fact is that Australia is one of the most highly regarded countries in this arcaneworld of spectrum planning. So much so that Australian expertise is sought after,Australians’ opinions valued.Returning to the question of convergence, it would seem that markets have digesteddigitalisation and that the ACMA, as a regulatory facilitator, is playing a critical role incompleting important parts of the practical digitalisation project. However, theconvergence challenge of digitalisation has not been fully addressed legislatively andindeed, in my view, this challenge has been compounded by (in fact, run over by) theemergence and dominance of IP networks in the last decade.As you would all well know, based on digital content and carriage, IP networks havecome to play an ever more important role. This has meant content has becomeincreasingly non-linear, interlinked and ‘uncontained’ while people increasingly expectto connect and communicate seamlessly—anywhere, anyhow, anytime. acma | 5
  • 6. We (I mean regulators and policy makers) have almost digested the concept of ‘online’media as opposed to the ‘offline’ traditional media. But that is more than a decade anda half old! The split is no longer binary—‘online’ has moved on through a number ofiterations. There is an important sense in which developments such as socialnetworking are changing the game away from the ‘online’ website world as much asfrom the ‘offline’ world.The final report of the Convergence Review, recently handed to the Minister, will, Iassume/I hope, address these two waves of change that I’ve touched on—digitalisation and IP networks.I should note that while these remain essentially unresolved in a legislative andregulatory sense, in my view, a third wave of change looms, reflecting developmentssuch as cloud computing, virtualization, machine-to-machine communication andpossibly semantic networks—one which will call for ever more agile and adaptivemodes of regulation. Again, it will be interesting to see how the Review addresses this.The Review has also had the task of integrating the findings of the NationalClassification Scheme on matters of content standards and classification, and of theIndependent Media Inquiry Media, with regard to ownership and professionalstandards.Now, all of these Review processes and outcomes will be important to the ACMA.Ultimately, a policy response to the observations, suggestions and recommendationscoming from these reviews will be a matter for Government.Without wishing to foreclose in any way on the Government’s response to the finalreport of Convergence Review, I would offer a few preliminary observations:> Many of the recommended powers and functions canvassed to date in the various Reviews are similar to and build on those currently performed by the ACMA.> The ACMA, through industry codes, covers virtually all the field for media standards breaches and complaints resolution.> The ACMA has significant responsibilities in relation to the digital environment as noted earlier.> As the current regulator, we have an intimate knowledge of the communications and media market, and technical capabilities in relation to myriad hard and soft devices.One of the questions raised about ACMA processes has been the time taken toconclude broadcasting investigations—and, urban myths to the contrary, the averageis 3.2 months. I must say that when a matter comes to the Authority which raisesquestions of precedent or confirms serious breaches of the freedoms given orprotected in the Codes and Standards we administer, I make no apology for the factthat these matters are considered with due gravity.It is also worth noting that, although the ACMA is perhaps best known for itsbroadcasting work, particularly dealing with complaints about content, this comprises asmall, albeit important, part of our workload (about 16 per cent)—the tip of that icebergif you will.We typically may have around 54 broadcast investigations on foot at any one time.This compares with 32 breaches found of the Mobile Premium Services Code, 1,210complaints made to the Do Not Call Register over the last year, 3,496 Online Contentcomplaints over the same period and 17,366 spam complaints, reports and enquiresmade in January alone.6 | acma
  • 7. In our Outreach Program (a cybersafety education program for teachers), 64,500resources were dispatched during January 2012. Since January 2009 there have beenapproximately 411,000 attendees at Internet Safety Awareness Presentations. TheCybersmart website has attracted over 1,489,000 visits since being launched.I am delighted to report that Tagged, our Cybersmart DVD for teenagers, is nowmaking a splash on the international stage. It has been named as a finalist in the‘Instruction and Education’ and ‘Society and Social’ categories of the New YorkFestivals International Film and Television Awards. We’re optimistic that we may go onto pick up a medal at the awards ceremony, which is about to get underway in just anhour’s time in the United States. Whether it’s Gold, Silver or Bronze, we’ll knowshortly.For those who haven’t seen it, Tagged is a compelling short film addressingcyberbullying, sexting and digital reputation. It has been viewed around the world, butwe are most proud of the response that it gets at home, from the young Australianswho are its primary audience. They tell us that they relate to it because it feels real totheir lives, right now. I urge you to check it out online at cybersmart.gov.au.But I’m digressing in this Olympic year.Succinctly put, our ‘day job’ is to be Australia’s town planner for all broadcasting,telecommunications and radiocommunications; from Broome to Burnie, fromBundaberg to Bunbury … and from the country’s highest point (as the coordinator ofAustralia’s satellite slots) to some of its lowest points (as the enforcer of the submarinecables that deliver 98 per cent of Australia’s international data connectivity) … and, ohI forgot, as the regulator of this poorly conforming child, the internet!Here we are very mindful of the need to keep abreast of evolving threats and respondto these as appropriate. Our anti-botnet activity is an interesting case in point. Botnetsare the main mechanism for perpetrating cybercrime, as the malware that createsbotnets enables infected computers to be controlled remotely for illegal and harmfulactivities.I won’t spend time here elaborating the harmful effects of botnets, other than to saythat if your computer is part of a botnet, you need to take action to disinfect yourcomputer as soon as possible. The problem is that in almost all cases those that areinfected have no knowledge they are ‘compromised’. The ACMA-run AustralianInternet Security Initiative (AISI) has an important role to play.Under the AISI program, the ACMA provides daily reports to participating ISPs about‘compromised’ computers residing on their networks. ISPs are expected to use thisinformation to identify their infected customers, inform them of the infection and assistthem in disinfecting their computing device and restoring it to correct operation. Togive some context of the scale of the botnet problem in Australia, so far in 2011–12 theACMA has reported around 14,500 compromised IP addresses each day to AISIparticipants.Sometimes specific threats require creative responses, which has been illustrated byour recent response to DNSChanger. Without going into the technical aspects of thismalware, if action is not taken by those with this infection (and notifying ISP’s as towhich computers are infected) the effective result will be that they will not be able toconnect to the internet after 9 July.Our response to this threat—in collaboration with DBCDE and CERT Australia—hasalso been to establish a diagnostic website which can be used to check whether the acma | 7
  • 8. DNSChanger malware is present on a user’s device. If a device is infected, tools andinformation are provided to help remove the malware.Over 150,000 visits by unique internet users were made to this website in the firstseven days after the ACMA’s media campaign started. We are using multiple mediachannels—particularly social media—to alert Australian internet users about thisinfection and point to assistance in removing this infection.Now, still on the ‘town planning’ role, but switching to a different one of ourresponsibilities—spectrum management—an important element of that role isconsultation, transparency and accountability. Over the last four years or so since theACMA’s renaissance in this role, we have been busy, very busy.We have published three editions of the Five-year Spectrum Outlook and over 50discussion papers on spectrum related matters. We have held RadCommsconferences, spectrum tune-ups and workshops. And earlier this year, we led a veryimpressive Australian delegation to the World Radiocommunication Conference.This year’s 2012–2016 eMag edition of our rolling Five-year Spectrum Outlook (to bereleased in early May) will consolidate our research and analysis on spectrummanagement issues, and our work plans remain a world leader in this space.Just as predicted in last year’s edition of the Outlook, we have seen the continued riseof the smartphone and tablet devices, with associated increases in data transfer. So,in this edition, we are again looking to the horizon, particularly the implications forspectrum demand from the emergence of yet another powerful technology—machine-to-machine communications.In a recent report titled Machine-to-machine communications: connecting billions ofdevices, the OECD made the observation: Machines with the capability to communicate are far from new … what has changed is the inexpensive electronics, the use of the internet protocol, together with the ubiquitous networks and (cloud) computing now allows any device to be equipped with a communications module.It is these communication modules, coupled with touch screen technology and theavailability of the ‘cloud’, which is driving the demand for smart phones and tabletdevices.In turn, these devices are a part of what is creating the demand for spectrum for nextgeneration technologies such as LTE, as users seek to access and downloadinformation at their fingertips, day or night.In response to this theme, and user feedback on previous editions, the new Outlook isleaner, more agile and more accessible. The information it contains will be available ata slide of your fingertip on a smartphone or tablet device, since we will be releasingthe Outlook as an eMag.addition next month. The ACMA is making itself accessible toyou, anywhere, anytime. You will be able to share the information it contains through amultitude of social media applications like Facebook and Twitter.The cornerstone of the Outlook remains the same: an overview of the ACMA’s topspectrum projects over the five-year period and specific work plan priorities for 2012–2013. Briefly, these priorities are:1. Re-allocation of the 700 MHz band.2. Re-allocation and conversion of the 2.5 GHz band.8 | acma
  • 9. 3. Re-issue/re-allocation of the expiring spectrum licences.4. Smart infrastructure and new thinking about infrastructure parks.This year’s edition will also provide an in-depth analysis of WRC-12 outcomes, which Idon’t have the time or space to do so today.But, a quick plug: on June 6 and 7 of we have our annual RadComms conference,RadComms 2012. We are back down to Melbourne for our conference this year,looking forward to a lively, informative dialogue with our stakeholders, sharing thelatest developments and trends in the spectrum to encourage innovation andcollaboration by users.As a further heads-up, we are holding a WRC-12 Tune-up in Canberra at the NationalLibrary of Australia on 23rd April—limited seats are still available and all registrationdetails are on our website.I mentioned a moment ago the expiring spectrum licences. The ACMA is later todayreleasing its indicative timetable for the re-issue of spectrum licences that expire overthe next five and a half years. It is the ACMA’s objective to provide re-issue certainty tolicensees 18 months prior to licence expiry where possible, so the workplan istherefore concentrated over the next four years and is scheduled according to licenceexpiry. The ACMA considers that an important part of that certainty is the developmentof updated technical frameworks underpinning the relevant bands. There is aconsiderable amount of work required to ensure that the technical and regulatoryframework for both spectrum licensing generally, and specific bands, demonstratesufficient flexibility and efficiencies for the next 15 years. The review of technicalframeworks will occur through our technical liaison group (TLG) consultativeprocesses and is essential to future-proof the technical frameworks, ensuring they arecapable of supporting the introduction of next generation technologies across the lifeof the spectrum licences.In addition, the other important body of work for the ACMA in the re-issue process is toestablish whether the licences have either been used in the provision of a service thatthe Minister has recently determined that re-issue to the incumbent licensee is in thepublic interest; or that special circumstances exist as a result of which the ACMA issatisfied that it is in the public interest for the incumbent licensee to continue to holdthe licence. The ACMA will work directly with the incumbent licensees on theseprocesses.This spectrum management aspect of the ACMA ‘iceberg’ of work is, for me, animportant illustration that the ACMA is more than a ‘regulator’, showcasing our work asa facilitator.It emphasises that we are not just on about reporting things that are broken—we areactually far more concerned with facilitating outcomes, fixing things and keeping themfixed—as our corporate tag-line suggests, firstly by communicating, secondly byfacilitating, but finally and, as necessary, by regulating.Leaving spectrum, I would like to turn to another of the big ticket items for the ACMA interms of communications’ inputs—future telephone numbering.The ACMA saw the need for change and acted.Telephone numbers are intrinsic to the design of communications networks because,to reiterate the bleeding obvious, they provide the information that lets users getconnected and communicate. Australia’s telephone numbering arrangements were acma | 9
  • 10. based in the pre-internet age—the current plan was set up in 1991 and based around1960s network design.Since then, fundamental changes in networks and technologies, as well as profoundchanges in consumer behaviour and services, have put significant pressure on theregulatory arrangements for telephone numbers—so we have today a Numbering Planthat is increasingly clunky, reliant on technology-specific definitions, poorly understoodby consumers and no longer meeting the needs of the users of numbers and thesuppliers of services.In response to that particular pressure for change, the ACMA started work in 2010 toreview telephone numbering arrangements to address the known problems with theplan.We got on with the work, developed ideas and consulted comprehensively andexhaustively.We undertook research and analysis and released four consultation papers .We heldworkshops and consulted on immediate changes to the Numbering Plan and a positionpaper on the way forward for freephone and local rate numbers—the 13 and 1800numbers that are used to dial businesses and information services.The ACMA has also set out its thinking on the future structure and arrangements oftelephone numbers with 24 specific changes identified. The changes underconsideration are intended to:> Increase the broad-based use of telephone numbers.> Plan for future demand, particularly expected growth in mobile numbers.> Provide more flexibility in the way that numbers are specified, reducing the degree to which technologies define the number use.> Provide improved price transparency where numbers are used to provide price signals to consumers.> Simplify the structure of the plan, including an increased role for industry in the administration and allocation of numbers.Industry and community feedback has been extensive, with over 200 submissions andmore than 1,000 individual letters received.We listened to these views and implementation is underway on some importantchanges already.Six immediate issues are being acted on, including, for example, changes to expandmobile number capacity, provide more flexibility in the use of geographic numbers,return unused numbers and remove redundant schedules from the Numbering Plan.But, just when you thought it might be time to have a breather, regrettably I advise youthere is more to come.The ACMA sees its role as actively managing the evolution of telephone numberingarrangements.For example, freephone and local rate numbers are one of the first major issues weare tackling.It is an issue that is complex, multi-layered, contractual, out of step with the way thatpeople use communications services and currently a cause of significant confusion for10 | acma
  • 11. consumers. The ACMA has looked at a range of regulatory and non-regulatoryresponses to this issue and is very mindful of the flow on effects to a range ofstakeholders in any undertaking any change, not least the subscribers of theseservices that includes many small businesses. I expect to be updating all stakeholderson this issue soon.Of the other medium and longer-term issues canvassed in the Future Directions paper,the ACMA has benefited greatly from the input of stakeholders in the submission andengagement processes. Some of the evolutionary paths are charted more easily thanothers. It is a careful balancing act between achieving efficient, simple and practicalimplementable arrangements while actively supporting innovation in the new servicesthat will require access to telephone numbers.By mid-year the ACMA expects to come to a landing on these medium and longerterm issues and be working with industry and consumers to implement administrativeand structural changes to telephone numbering arrangements.Our public inquiry into customer service in the telco sector, known as Reconnectingthe customer, which I launched at the CommsDay Summit in April 2010, sought toidentify and address the causes of growing and unsustainably high levels ofcomplaints to the TIO. It concluded that co-regulation has not been working effectivelyin the interests of consumers in an increasingly complex environment of platforms,products, services and suppliers.Following the conclusion of the inquiry, we gave Communications Alliance a formalnotice requiring it to address a number of deficiencies with the currentTelecommunications Consumer Protections Code.On 7 February this year, the Communications Alliance submitted a copy of theproposed, revised TCP Code. I should again acknowledge CA’s staff, its SteeringGroup and its working committees for their assiduous dedication to the task ofrevamping the code over the past two years. I have observed incrementalimprovements over a series of drafts over this period.There have been profound improvements in a range of areas—including the criticallyimportant area of complaints-handling.For example, we asked CA to establish benchmark standards addressing principlesset out in the Australian Standard such as visibility, accessibility and responsiveness.We also asked for benchmarks to ensure the timely handling of complaints, andbenchmarks for better management of complaints information.My view, without pre-empting the decision of the Authority, is that CA has made agood fist at meeting the principles of the Australian Standard and this aspect of theTCP Code—if registered—would make a valuable contribution to better customersatisfaction in the event of a problem.However, the change in the remaining three big ticket areas that the ACMA formallyrequired CA to improve—advertising, pre-sale information and expenditure/usagetools has been less impressive. These areas are central to the substance of acustomer’s engagement with a telco through the customer relationship life cycle, fromproduct selection and contractual obligations, through to usage monitoring and billing.At this point I should make clear that the ACMA has not made any decision aboutwhether to register the proposed revised code. But these parts of the code do notshape up against the terms of the formal (s 125 deficiency) notice with which CA waspresented. The Authority is formally considering the TCP Code at its meetingtomorrow. acma | 11
  • 12. The ACMA has repeatedly stated that we will not resile from our goal of makingcommunications work in Australia’s public interest. Nor will we be resiling from ourstated Reconnecting the customer aim of materially improving outcomes for Australiantelco consumers. We have clear vision of what those improvements look like. We haveshared that clear vision with CA. And we have made it crystal clear that we will step inwith regulatory instruments where self or co-regulation does not deliver the safeguardsnecessary for consumers to navigate the complexity of today’s telecommunicationsmarket.The MPS code stands as a model for how an industry code can work in co-ordinationwith a buttressing regulatory instrument—in the case of MPS, two service providerdeterminations. In February the ACMA registered a new MPS code effective from 1June 2012 that includes further protections even though complaints remain down fromthe historically high levels of 2008 and I commend industry for its efforts.And one couldn’t possibly have a Communications Conference against the backdropof the current debate without touching on the NBN.The ACMA anticipates that the NBN and associated initiatives are going to play anincreased role for us over the coming year and beyond. Internally, we have beencalling the NBN initiatives undertaken across Government and industry to date asPhase 1 of NBN. As everyone in this room will be well aware, this Phase 1 hasinvolved a huge amount of work and mental reprocessing at the level of headlandlegislation, renegotiating access agreements and undertakings, and setting up newinstitutions like TUSMA. These are all pointing towards some new approaches andmodels for doing business, and some new challenges for policy makers and industryalike.In our view, Phase 1 is coming to an end. Most of those headland structural issueshave been put in place. During Phase 1, the ACMA’s role has been involved in someimportant, but it is fair to say, probably not central issues. We have had to consider arange of spectrum and satellite issues, particularly as they affect regional NBN users.We have also thought quite a lot about powers and immunities and some technicalstandards matters.However, we think that we are now moving into Phase 2 of the NBN journey. In Phase2, we—regulators, industry, and perhaps most of all users—will need to address thepracticalities of the rollout of, and connection to, the new network and, along with that,an even deeper paradigm change to a comprehensive wholesale/retail and IP-basedapproach to the provision of all services.On current NBNCo plans, the service rollout will very significantly accelerate during thecourse of 2012 and into 2013. As that change scales up, there are likely to be manyissues for the legacy regulatory approaches, including for much of the self-regulatorymachinery that has been developed by ACIF and Communications Alliance over adecade or so ago, and that has served us reasonably well. Some of the issues that arelikely to become topical in Phase 2 include, to mention but a few, customer transferarrangements, portability arrangements, communications with consumers, faultidentification and rectification and complaints-handling. These are all matters wherethe ACMA has had, historically, a much stronger interest and role.We are aware that many of these issues are on the radar of the industry itself underthe auspices of Communications Alliance, and in commercial discussions with NBNCo.But it is important that thinking about them is being done with sufficient robustness tomaximise the likelihood that whatever new arrangements are being put in place thatthey will be genuinely fit for purpose.12 | acma
  • 13. Australia has had some real success stories in the past in relation to some of thesematters (for example, mobile number portability is widely recognised as a worldleader). It will be important to identify and work on the real issues that are of criticalimportance. So I do assure you that the ACMA is and will continue to think hard aboutthese matters, and, where appropriate, we will not hesitate to give our guidance aboutthe outcomes that are necessary (which ‘guidance’ is a developing trademark of theACMA).The ACMA has already taken initiatives to engage with some of our colleagues inother government agencies around some of these challenges with a view to thisgovernment suite of interested agencies and portfolios are seamlessly coordinated orpassable, and we are currently thinking about the best way of engaging withstakeholders more broadly. So don’t be surprised if during the second half of this year,you see the ACMA hosting in consultative activities some tune ups or workshops onthese matters, in ways that we have found to be useful in other areas, like spectrum.So, whether:> it’s the fresh, ‘first principles’ block configuration approach to the re- stack process> the detailed preparatory work on the 700 MHz and 2.5 GHz to deliver the Digital Dividend or the relentless pursuit of broadband spectrum> some pre-emptive initiatives for fresh approaches to our telecommunications numbering arrangements> the long overdue necessity to reset the industry customer service and complaints- handling performance> the unchartered waters for the ACMA (and indeed for all industry participants) in Phase 2 of the NBN, or> the compelling necessity to much better educate Australian citizens and consumers about both the opportunities of the digital economy and the threats in the online world… convergence sits behind them all.The ACMA is engaged, it’s active, it’s best practice in a number of areas and it’s verymuch alive to the need to continuously reinvent itself.Thank you. ENDS acma | 13