The government this morning unveiled its VoIP policy framework and a report by the federal Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) into the regulatory implications of VoIP services.
"The report finds there is no immediate need for any changes to the regulatory framework and recommends some small adjustments to existing numbering, emergency services and customer service regulation to acommodate VoIP services," said a statement from the department issued this morning.
"All of the recommendations of the report have been accepted and will be implemented by government."
However the report found a new, non-geographic number range would need to be established so that VoIP customers could keep the same number when moving house, similar to the way the mobile phone numbering system operates.
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, said the government's approach would help ensure a competitive environment.
"By committing to implementation of the report's recommendations, the government will provide regulatory clarity in the short- to medium-term and help to promote a competitive communications environment," she said in a statement.
A spokesperson from the office of the opposition's Communications spokesperson Senator Stephen Conroy was not immediately available to comment on the government's policy.
However, the DCITA report indicates service providers which have already launched mass-market VoIP services, including Engin, Internode and iiNet, may face years before reaping the benefits of widespread consumer takeup.
"While takeup of VoIP is strong in the corporate market in Australia, consumer take-up of VoIP is still in the early stages and it is unlikely to become a major mass-market technology in the next two to three years," it said.
In addition, the report says the ability of large carriers to bundle VoIP services to their existing broadband subscribers means that the introduction of the technology is expected to have only "a mild positive effect on competition".
Another problem is "the capacity of carriers to hold back the quality of rival services and applications employed on their networks".
The report is expected to be debated at an event in Sydney on 6 December run by industry group the Australian Communications Industry Forum.