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Australian government to slash telco regulation

The Australian government has indicated that 1,000 pages of regulation in the Communications portfolio has been earmarked for removal in the government's first repeal Bill.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

As flagged by ZDNet last month, the government has included some 1,000 pages of regulation in the Communications portfolio in the government's first repeal day Bill.

According to Parliamentary Secretary for Communications Paul Fletcher, the repeal of the legislation will save the communications industry AU$35 million per year, and will see a number of reporting and record-keeping requirements for the telecommunications sector removed.

Given the implementation of the self-regulatory telecommunications consumer protection (TCP) code, Fletcher said that a requirement in the regulation for telcos to produce duplicate summaries will be removed, and there will also be a streamlining of reporting requirements to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Telstra was also successful in convincing the government to repeal record-keeping rules around the separation of its wholesale and retail accounts in light of the fact that Telstra is now moving towards being a structurally separated entity with split wholesale and retail arms as part of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The mobile telcos appear to have also had one of their wish-list items approved, with a streamlining of identity checks for prepaid mobile services. The mobile industry has complained that mandatory ID checks for prepaid mobile services offer little benefit to law enforcement agencies, and it is not used in the US, the UK, or Canada.

The telecommunications industry code would also be simplified, and there would be an amendment to the permit process for the approval of subsea cables.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently described as "a passionate deregulator", has also revoked 46 regulatory instruments, Fletcher said, and the regulator is in the process of removing more unnecessary reporting requirements.

"The government has consulted widely with companies, consumer advocates and regulators in the communication sector to ensure we get these measures right," Fletcher said.

"There is strong support for the government's deregulation agenda. We are committed to protecting the Australian public and have kept telecommunication consumer safeguards in place."

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