Report: Australia rife with unsafe telco gear

Australia's telecommunications market is being flooded with equipment which does not meet technical standards, according to a paper released by a government regulator down under.

Australia's telecommunications market is being flooded with equipment which does not meet technical standards, according to a paper released by a government regulator down under.

The Australian Communications Authority said in a discussion paper released yesterday around one-quarter of telecommunications equipment, including fixed phones, mobile handsets, fax machines and modems used by the industry did not comply with its requirements.

The ACA said this could cause "considerable detriment" to end users in the form of poor service delivery, product failures and even risks to personal safety.

It added that such equipment could endanger network health and result in a failure to access emergency call services.

"In addition to exposing consumers to risk, unscrupulous operators who avoid their legal responsibilities will bring the industry into disrepute and cause significant detriment to the effective operation of competition in the customer equipment and consumer cabling marketplace," the ACA said.

It added that the supply of unlabelled or non-compliant equipment also exposes consumers to the risk of committing an offence.

The ACA indicated it would move to close a legal loophole whereby retailers and resellers were not covered by telecommunications laws governing the supply of unauthorized equipment.

"At the moment, it is not an offence for retailers or resellers to supply unlabelled or non-compliant items so there is no incentive for them to insist that manufacturers and importers provide them with conforming equipment," said Tony Shaw, ACA's chairman.

"The interests of consumers and the wider customer equipment and customer cabling industry can only be properly safeguarded by placing some responsibility on retailers and resellers to ensure that the products they sell are labelled and comply with the Telecommunications Act," Shaw stressed.