Issue No 35: 15 December 2021



Hot Topics
  • ACOMMS 2021:  Photos here Highlights Video here

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Message from the CEO

Dear Communications Alliance Members, industry stakeholders and readers.Seasons-Greetings

As this is our last edition of We Communicate for 2021, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you for your guidance, assistance and shared wisdom during what has been a pretty ‘special’ year.

I think everyone within and connected to our industry is feeling the strain of the effort that has been required this year, to cope with increased demand, magnified operational complexity, heavier regulatory burdens and the evolving needs of customers as many of them have faced new challenges, brought about by changed circumstances and the far-reaching impacts of this pandemic.

The reality is that the industry has performed extremely well in this difficult environment. Network performance has been maintained and improved against a backdrop of around 20% growth in data demand. Many thousands of customers in difficult or vulnerable situations have stayed connected through service provider focus and the industry COVID-operating principles that have been in place for close to two years. Complaint volumes continue their downward trend and are at the lowest level for around five years.

It is pleasing that the successful efforts of service providers have been publicly acknowledged by Government and the Opposition, as well as by regulators.

I hope that you and your loved ones have an opportunity to have some fun and ‘re-charge’ during the end-of-year period and to enjoy more time together and the chance to relax - things we all need if we are to achieve any sort of work-life balance.

I am very grateful for everything that CA members have done to help us cope with a very busy period on the regulatory front.

I sincerely applaud the fantastic management team and Board of Directors at Comms Alliance for their sustained efforts and their capacity to stay positive (and to ‘put up’ with me)!!

Best wishes – we look forward to working with you in 2022.

Industry Seeks Cost-Benefit Analysis of Proposed Consumer Data Right Framework in the Telecommunications Sector

Communications Alliance has made a submission to the Federal Department of the Treasury in response to Treasury’s release of the report of its assessment of whether there is a case for designating Telecommunications as an industry sector within which a Consumer Data Right (CDR) framework should be created.

If designated, via a Ministerial decision, Telecommunications would become the third industry sector to implement CDR, after Financial Services and Energy.

The CA submission notes that under heavily caveated cost estimates generated by a consultant to Treasury, the cost to industry (and, ultimately, to consumers), of creating and operating a CDR framework in the telecommunications sector could be in the order of $120 million during the first two years.

The submission urges Treasury to quantify the value of the benefits to consumers that it believes could be created via a CDR framework. The Treasury assessment does not attempt to quantify any benefits, despite the Explanatory Memorandum of the CDR legislation having identified the need for a regulation impact statement (RIS) to be prepared, thus enabling a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed move.

The CA submission acknowledges that Treasury has acted on some industry recommendations, including by paring back the breadth of the data sets that were originally proposed to fall under the scope of a potential CDR framework in telecommunications.

It also identifies a range of issues that will need to be clarified at the rule-making stage, if the Government decides to proceed with the designation.

A Ministerial decision is anticipated in the late January 2022 timeframe.

Communications Alliance Submission in Response to Online Privacy Bill

The submission in response to the Attorney General’s Department exposure draft of the Privacy Legislation Amendment (Enhancing Online Privacy and Other Measures) Bill 2021 highlights significant concerns with the overlap of the measures contemplated in the Bill and other parallel processes, such as the review of the Privacy Act and the Age Verification Roadmap. The submission urges Government to delay consideration of the matters contemplated in the Bill, if required at all in this form, until the other reform processes have sufficiently processed.
In addition to concerns with the general reform process, the submission raises (substantial) concerns with a number of issues, including:

  • Definitional aspects, i.e. the broad scope of organisations and activities covered as online privacy organisations which does not align with the stated intent of the legislation;
  • Expansion of notice and consent requirements for all organisations in scope;
  • Age verification and parental/guardian consent, including the age threshold of 16 years;
  • Opt-out of disclosure and use of personal information for all advertising; and
  • Extraterritorial application of the proposed legislation.

The ACMA is Consulting on a Second Tranche of Spectrum Pricing Review Tax Reforms

The Communications Alliance Satellite Services Group provided a submission on the ACMA’s  consultation on their second part of the regulatory response to the implementation of the Spectrum Pricing Review. In a second tranche of Spectrum Pricing Review tax reforms, the ACMA is proposing to update the assigned apparatus licence tax formula, including a restructure and rebalance of the location weightings and changes to the way taxes are updated annually.

In the response, the SSWG presents the argument that the proposed increase in the location weightings for FSS services provided in the C-Band (2,690 to 5,000 MHz range) should not be applied to high and medium-density areas as it will cause an unbalanced additional cost for satellite services provided to remote areas. It notes that the current tax system does not adequately take account of situations when satellite network operators must use broad bandwidth because of the configuration of satellite systems. The current tax system may create disincentives for the provision of satellite services as it may be economically unfeasible, due to high regulatory fees. The SSWG submission does not represent the views of Telstra.

Current Consultations

Below is a list of currently open telecommunications-related consultations being conducted by Government and other organisations that provide an opportunity for you to have your say.

Communications Alliance members interested in contributing to an industry submission (if one is being developed in response to a specific consultation) should contact us.

ConsultationOrganisationClosing Date
Implementation of Parliamentary Committee and Auditor-General Recommendations - Department of Home AffairsDoHA27/02/2022
Review of fibre-ready facilities exemptions under Part 20A of the Telecommunications Act 1997
ACL – Consumer guarantees and supplier indemnificationTreasury
Exploring the future use of the 1.9 GHz bandACMA
Reform of Australia’s electronic surveillance framework discussion paperDoHA
Pre-budget submissions
Improvements to mandatory standards regulation under the ACL
Draft Regulator Performance Omnibus Bill
Privacy Act Review Discussion Paper
Remaking the Telecommunications (Infringement Notices) Guidelines 2011
Proposal to make Telecommunications Service Provider (Customer Identity Verification) Determination 2021 - consultation 39/2021

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Contact Tel: (61) 2 9959 9111