3.6 Mandatory versus voluntary provisions

When considering mandatory requirements for Standards to be called up under the Telecommunications Act 1997, Working Committees need to consider implications on suppliers (e.g. manufacturing imposts, restrictions of trade, international alignment), test laboratories (e.g. testability, costs of testing) and users (e.g. increase in costs of products).

Within the Terms of Reference, mandatory provisions in Standards, whether newly introduced requirements or existing requirements (in the case of a revision), are to be assessed against the relevant section of the Act.

NOTE:  Many of the current Standards have their origins in earlier documents that were developed for the PSTN and at a time when mandatory requirements were seen to be wider than the present ‘Heads of Power’ requirements. Existing requirements should also be examined as to their ongoing suitability against these Principles.

The relevant sections of the Act are referenced in Regulatory. Specifically for:

  • Customer Equipment Standards - assessed against the four ‘Heads of Power’ of section 376 (2) of the Act.
  • Disability Standards - assessed against section 380 (1) of the Act.
  • Standards for cabling work – which are legislated under the Telecommunications Cabling Provider Rules 2000 and Telecommunications (Types of Cabling Work) Declaration 1997 which are in turn legislated under section 421 and 419 of the Act.

In addition to the provisions of the Act, which always take precedence, the requirements in Standards (both mandatory and voluntary requirements) need to be assessed by the Working Committees and Working Groups against the features listed below.

Information that is non-mandatory (e.g. recommendations, guidelines or voluntary clauses) can be included in Standards. In providing this type of information in a Standard that is to be mandated, information along the following can be considered:

  • recommendations that are above the minimum requirements of the Standard.
  • guidance that is best practice.
  • design guidance.
  • providing context for existing mandatory requirements.

Consideration should also be given to developing a separate Guideline or a voluntary Standard instead of incorporating the text in the Standard itself.

Feature list

The following list of features provides guidance for Working Groups and Working Committees when considering the features or characteristics that may be included in a Standard.

This is not a definitive list, as there will be entries that are not applicable to all devices or all Standards and there may be additional items not listed which need to be considered.

a) Acoustic interface parameters

For pluggable devices such as headsets and earbuds, the distinction needs to be made whether the test is applied at the socket of the device where it is plugged in or incorporates the transducer(s).

  • Send Loudness Ratings (SLR)
  • Receive Loudness Ratings (RLR)
  • Maximum Sound Pressure Level (SPL)
  • acoustic shock
  • frequency response

b) Emergency call access parameters

  • key entry characteristics
  • dialling under lock conditions
  • a one-touch emergency call button
  • screen display messages, including when roaming (camp on)

c) Network interface parameters (network integrity)

When considering requirements for a network interface, the need to have a Customer Equipment Standard has to be determined, taking into account the current Australian regulatory framework, Australian telecommunications carriers/operators and overseas standardisation developments.

Current network interfaces include:

  • Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)
  • Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
  • Large Megabit Bearer (LMB)
  • Public Mobile Telecommunications Network (PMTS) (e.g. GSM, CDMA, 3G, LTE)
  • Wireless (e.g. satellite, Broadband Wireless Access (BWA), WiFi)
  • National Broadband Network (NBN)

d) Safety Parameters

When considering how safety requirements are to be addressed, the most appropriate safety Standards need to be identified. Generally, the national equipment safety Standard AS/NZS 60950.1 contains all necessary requirements but it is also necessary to ensure that all the safety requirements are covered by this Standard. Additional safety requirements may need to be considered.

Safety requirements are to address personal safety. They do not intentionally address equipment protection.

AS/NZS 60950.1 addresses the following equipment hazards:

  • electric shock
  • energy related hazards
  • fire
  • heat related
  • mechanical
  • radiation (includes sonic (acoustic), RF, infra-red, ultraviolet, ionizing and high intensity visible and coherent light (lasers))
  • chemical (e.g. contact or inhalation of vapours/fumes)

AS/NZS 60950.1 does not currently address the follow hazard:

  • acoustic (i.e. safety in relation to the levels of audio signals delivered through an ear piece or headset)

e) Tactile interface parameters

Examples for consideration may include:

  • tactile indicators on keypads (also referred to as the ‘pip’)
  • button pressure
  • button size
  • colour
  • response (tactile or audible)

f) Visual interface parameters

Examples for consideration may include:

  • screen brightness
  • font type and size
  • resolution
  • flicker
  • colour

g) Cabling installation Standards

Examples for consideration may include:

  • separation of services (SELV, ELV, LV, LV telecommunications and HV).
  • earthing integrity (cable sizes, equipotential bonding, type of earthing system e.g. CES or TRC).
  • cable product appropriateness and integrity (e.g. indoor/outdoor use, conduits).
  • sectors of industry to which the standard applies (any cabling that is used, installed ready for use or intended for use on the customer side of the boundary of a telecommunications network) includes, for example, all ‘smart wiring’ in residential premises.
  • special provisions for some sectors of industry that may need to be included into the standard (e.g. LV telecommunications definition for public address systems, BMS, mining SWA cables).
  • explosive areas (e.g. such as paint manufacturing buildings).
  • Earth Potential Rise (EPR) zones (where there are HV transformers on or near the premises).
  • Low Frequency Induction (LFI) effects on customer cabling.
  • interference from other services sharing the same cable sheath with telecommunications circuits (e.g. such as nurse call, bells, buzzers, fire circuits, passive infra-red circuits).
  • sharing of infrastructure (e.g. power poles, ducts, cable trays)
  • co-locating with non-communications infrastructure (sub ducting or using electrical conduits).
  • carrier requirements (network boundary locations, clearances around network boundary devices, cabling interfaces).
  • prohibited locations of Main Distribution Frames or outlets (e.g. EPR zones, toilets, boiler rooms, fire escapes, damp areas).
  • Over-voltage protection of customer cabling and customer equipment (cabler installed SPDs and equipment SPDs).