ACA updates telco regulations

The Australian Communications Authority has updated the telecommunications industry code setting a new "performance benchmark" for the interconnection of different networks, the body announced today.According to a statement issued today, the updated code devised by the Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF) has been registered with the ACA, making it enforceable by the organisation.

The Australian Communications Authority has updated the telecommunications industry code setting a new "performance benchmark" for the interconnection of different networks, the body announced today.

According to a statement issued today, the updated code devised by the Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF) has been registered with the ACA, making it enforceable by the organisation.

The code titled End-To-End Network Performance for the Standard Telephone Service is designed to "specify minimum performance levels for end-to-end network performance" in the absence of formal regulation, the code states.

The update builds upon the initial code set in 1999, the body said, following the significant deregulation of the industry in mid-1997. The ACA said the most significant changes to the code effects "compliance testing" and "reporting obligations placed on network operators".

The changes have replaced mandatory testing and reporting with "self-verification" and "self-attestation".

According to an ACA spokesman the original code required telcos to test the interaction of their networks and the performance of their transition, however, he said the costs of doing the tests outweighed the benefit to the consumers.

"They [telcos] still have to do in-house tests to make sure their performance meets the code but it's not mandatory," he said. "They then make a statement to ACIF that it has met the performance levels."

ACA chairman, Dr Bob Horton, said the move to self regulation illustrates the body's faith in the industry's good practice.

"The shift to self-verification and self-attestation shows that the ACA is becoming increasingly confident in the industry's approach to self-regulation of technical matters and the ACA is reducing the burden of regulation in a careful and measured way," Horton said.

The ACA said the adjustment of the code also involved a revision of its boundaries and applicability, which led the body to consider its relevance to Voice over Internet Protocol technologies.

However, the ACA said that VoIP international standards are not "sufficiently mature" and as such agreement within the industry could not be reached on the matter.

Yet, Horton adds that the ACA is preparing a discussion paper for release at the end of September as "a first step towards ensuring that IP-based network issues are addressed adequately and quickly".

"We look forward to seeing further advances in industry addressing IP-based network issues in the very near future," he said.

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