Government policy surrounding next generation networks (NGN) will be shaped by the appointment of an external consultant to advise on regulatory issues.
The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) will appoint a consultant to prepare a report on next generation networks and their implications for consumers, government and industry, according to a request for tender issued by DCITA.
Next generation networks were those that used packet-based transmission, had separate network and service and content functions, supported a range of services and mobile devices, and worked with legacy networks, according to DCITA.
However the technology itself and rollout of such networks will not be the focus of the report.
The report's purpose is to "broaden government's perspective and understanding of NGN developments and implications to assist it to respond to the challenges posed by NGNs and the evolving communications environment.
"While the consultancy is not a review of existing policy and regulatory arrangements per se ... [it] is seen as helping lay the groundwork for a range of scheduled forthcoming reviews."
The report would also be "a resource" for Australia's involvement in international NGN forums with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The consultancy is required to consult stakeholders for the report such as regulatory bodies, industry and user groups, as well as academic organisations.
The report will cover NGN implications for industry investment and competition, consumers expectations and protection, and jurisdiction and international governance. Also to be covered are the implications for: transitioning from existing networks to NGNs, regulatory concepts such as "carrier", "service provider", "standard telephone service" and "boundary of a telecommunications network".
Regulatory issues to be covered include numbering, naming and addressing, industry structure and licensing, as well as technical regulation.
The final report may be published to stimulate public discussion on the issues, according to the request for tender.
Particularly important for the report to address were the long term NGN issues identified in DCITA's 2005 report on VOIP, Examination of Policy and Regulation relating to Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) Services.
The successful consultancy would begin work on 12 March and present the final report on 29 June, according to the request for tender.