When it came to power the Abbott Government vowed to cut red tape and regulation that it said imposed an unnecessary burden on Australian businesses, and the Government's telecommunications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), has taken a step in that direction by reducing the number of hoops that suppliers of telecoms equipment have to jump through to get their goods onto the market.
Changes have been made to rules imposed on suppliers designed to ensure the equipment or cabling complies with the applicable technical standards. These rules require suppliers to attach a label (the ‘regulatory compliance mark’) to equipment or cabling to indicate compliance with applicable technical standards and to hold records demonstrating that the equipment or cabling complies with those standards.
The changes are specified in the Telecommunications (Labelling Notice for Customer Equipment and Customer Cabling) Instrument 2015, which will replace the Telecommunications Labelling (Customer Equipment and Customer Cabling) Notice 2001.
It reduces from 46 technology specific categories to four general categories, the types of interfaces to which the labelling notice applies. The ACMA says that since the 2001 labelling scheme was put in place the number of applicable interface categories has increased significantly greatly increasing the compliance burden on suppliers. "Whereas historically an item of equipment could be expected to have a single network interface, equipment is now likely to have multiple network interfaces (eg copper, Ethernet, Wi-Fi)."
The four general categories are now:
- Customer equipment for connection to a fixed telecommunications network. This category includes fixed line equipment, analogue telephones, VoIP telephones, DSL modems and ISDN equipment.
- Customer equipment for connection to a mobile network, where the equipment is intended for use in the supply of a standard telephone service (ie mobile phones and smartphones).
- Customer equipment for connection to a mobile network but not intended for use in the supply of a standard telephone service (ie tablets, mobile data equipment; machine-to-machine (M2M) devices, ATMs, vending machines.
- Customer equipment for connection to a satellite network.
The labelling regime is designed to prevent the supply and use of non-compliant equipment. The ACMA says the changes ensure that the requirements imposed on suppliers "are proportional to the risks associated with the supply and connection of non-compliant telecommunications customer equipment and customer cabling" and should "materially reduce" the costs to businesses of supplying telecommunications equipment."
ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, said: "The updated regulations continue to protect consumers while ensuring that equipment and cabling meet minimum technical requirements."
The ACMA has also increased the scope for suppliers to rely on overseas compliance documentation to demonstrate compliance with Australian requirements, and has reduced the requirements for suppliers to keep records on equipment for use on a mobile phone network when that equipment does not support voice communications.
There will be a transition period during which time suppliers will be able to label equipment under either the 2001 rules or the new 2015 rules.