Updated and remade: Telecommunications Regulations
The Telecommunications Regulations 2021 took effect on 1 April 2021. This new regulation repeals and remakes the Telecommunications Regulation 2001 (Cth), which sunsetted on 1 April 2021. While substantively the new Regulations are near-identical to the repealed regulations they replaced, they do include three newly inserted definitions which provide clarity around the scope of the regulations applicable to premium services delivered on mobile devices.
The Telecommunications Regulations 2021 (Regulations) are underpinned by the same principles as the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Act); they aim to promote the interests of end-users of carriage services by promoting efficiency and competitiveness in the Australian telecommunications market, leading to accessible and affordable carriage services for the welfare of all Australians.
The Regulations specify a range of matters as required and authorised by the Act, including on service provider determinations, industry codes and standards, and the protection of communications.
What has changed?
Substantively, the Regulations are near-identical to the repealed regulations they replaced. The Office of Best Practice Regulation has assessed that the Regulations consist of insubstantial changes to an instrument that merely have a minor and/or machinery regulatory impact.
Whilst the amendments are largely insubstantial, there are three newly inserted definitions of ‘mobile carriage service provider’, ‘premium content service’ and ‘proprietary network.’
What does this mean for Telecommunications providers?
The new definitions are as follows:
- Mobile carriage service provider means:
- a carriage service provider who supplies a customer with a public mobile telecommunications service
- a carriage service intermediary who arranges for the supply by a carriage service provider to a customer of a public mobile telecommunications service.
- Premium content service: a content service is a premium content service if a charge for the supply of the service is:
- expected to be included in a bill sent to a customer of a mobile carriage service provider by or on behalf of that provider
- payable by a customer of a mobile carriage service provider to that provider or any person acting on behalf of that provider:
- in advance
- in any other matter.
- Proprietary network means a telecommunications network used by a mobile carriage service provider that enables end users to access a premium content service by way of a mobile device where the service is not otherwise generally available.
The definitions of ‘premium content service’ and ‘proprietary network’ are taken from the Mobile Premium Services Code (Code) which serve to regulate how carriage service providers deliver premium services alongside the Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2010 (No 1) and (No 2) (Determinations).
The insertion of these definitions into the Regulation’s section on premium services clarifies the scope of the regulations applicable to premium services delivered on mobile devices. The new definitions do not result in any changes to the way that mobile premium services are regulated, instead they clarify, for the purpose of applying the Regulations:
- who is responsible for compliance as the mobile carriage service provider in respect of mobile premium services – the mobile carriage service provider or mobile carriage service intermediary
- which services are regarded as mobile premium content services – any content service for which a charge for the supply of the content service will appear on the customer’s mobile phone bill; and
- Which network will be considered to be the relevant network supplying mobile premium services – the mobile carriage service network that provides a user of a mobile device with access to the premium content service.
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