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Issue No 17: 28 June 2017


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Communications Alliance - Celebrating 20 Years

In June 1997, The Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF) – an industry owned, resourced and operated company was established by the telecommunications industry to implement and manage telecommunications co-regulation and self-regulation within Australia – consistent with the intent of the Telecommunications Act 1997, which removed barriers to market entry in our industry.

ACIF’s role was to develop and administer technical and operating arrangements to foster a thriving, effective communications industry serving the Australian community.

In August 2006, a new primary telecommunications industry body – Communications Alliance – succeeded ACIF, to provide a unified voice for the Australian communications industry and to lead it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and services. 

The prime mission of Communications Alliance has been to promote the growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance.

Communications Alliance membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet service providers, nbnTM, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.

Communications Alliance remains a fervent but pragmatic advocate for the sector, working with Government and regulators as all stakeholders confront an increasingly complex and dynamic market environment, characterised by accelerating technological and service development that throws regular challenges at the existing commercial and governance framework of the industry.

Anything the organisation achieves is derived from the cooperative efforts of experts from among its member base. These are the many volunteers whose knowledge and skill drive successful problem-solving across a broad canvas of industry activity – from technical, network, operational and inter-operator arrangements, through consumer protection to national security and next-generation service structures.

We have some history with the National Broadband Network. Beginning in 2009, we brought together more than 200 industry experts from more than 70 companies in Australia, who worked in seven different groups on a range technical and planning issues for the then nascent NBN. We wrote the original reference architecture for the GPON-based fibre-to-the-premise network and delivered 600 pages of output documentation that was used by nbnTM as it set about creating the network.

We continue that strong engagement with nbnTM and service providers today, to progress a range of operational matters needed to assist the migration of customers to NBN-based services and to positively influence the experience of customers once they are using NBN-based services.

The protection of consumer interests remains central to our mission. In 2010, the industry faced something akin to a crisis, as rapid increases in customer complaints to the industry ombudsman saw Government question whether the co/self-regulatory model was sustainable.

Industry united and responded with a comprehensive overhaul of customer service and consumer protection provisions that saw complaint volumes fall by more than half and overall customer satisfaction rise.

Today, twenty years after this journey began, we again see a trend of rising complaints as the avalanche of downloaded data and content put some existing product constructs under unprecedented pressure, and mass migrations to next-gen networks prove an inevitably disruptive momentary influence.

Industry must, and is, moving to meet these new challenges.

One of Communications Alliance’s most exciting recent initiatives began in 2015, when we launched the Communications Alliance Internet of Things (IoT) Think Tank.

The move recognised that:

  • the Internet of Things is the next ‘great disruptor’ – a techno wave with the power to transform industry sectors and national economies and bring enormous benefits to businesses and individuals worldwide; and that
  • Australia lacked both a clear Government strategy and a cohesive IoT-aware community that could work together to harness the benefits of IoT for the national economy, and seek to manage the attendant risks to network integrity, privacy and overall security.

The creation of the Think Tank clearly met a growing desire to advance Australia’s stocks in the IoT arena, lest we fall further behind those nations that had recognised and responded earlier to the IoT phenomenon.

As companies, Government entities and brilliant individuals flocked to join the IoT mission, it became clear that Communications Alliance should best nurture this endeavour by giving it independence. In July 2016, following approval by the Communications Alliance Board of Directors, the Think Tank became IoT Alliance Australia (IoTAA) – an independent not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.

Communications Alliance remains deeply involved; Chairing the Executive Council of IoTAA and participating in its seven workstreams, covering areas including education, network resilience and security, data sharing and privacy, industry verticals and smart cities, start-ups, interoperability and spectrum-related issues.

At last count, more than 500 individuals are actively engaged in the workstreams and IoTAA is acknowledged as the principal IoT development organisation in Australia, with rapidly expanding links internationally.

Longevity and consistency – combined with agility – have been hallmarks of Communications Alliance’s strength throughout its history. Two of our expert Project Managers – Mike Johns and James Duck – have been key contributors to our mission for 20 and 19 years respectively. 

Some of our Reference Panel Chairs and Directors have served – and driven – our company for more than a decade.
As Communications Alliance enters its third decade, the mission grows still more challenging, but the rewards of having a pivotal industry such as communications able to manage much of its own destiny with efficiency and flexibility, underpinned by strong principles, remain assets worth holding on to.

Currently, Communications Alliance manages 23 Standards, 25 Codes, 71 Guidelines, 10 Specifications and 10 Industry Guidance Notes which cover a large number of areas, including consumer protection as well as operational, network, customer equipment and security related matters.


Comment Sought on Priority Assistance for Life Threatening Medical Conditions Guideline (DR G609:2017)

Communications Alliance would like to invite public comments on the:

PRIORITY ASSISTANCE FOR LIFE THREATENING MEDICAL CONDITIONS GUIDELINE (DR G609:2017). Please refer to the below for further information.

The provision of Priority Assistance is a condition imposed onto Telstra as part of its Carrier Licence. It means that Telstra residential customers with a diagnosed life-threatening medical condition (based on eligibility criteria) or a person living in their home, can register as a priority customer in relation to requests for service connection or rectification of a fault of their fixed voice service. The provision of Priority Assistance is not a licence condition for other carriers.

In an attempt to have an equivalent service in place with other service providers, the Priority Assistance Code was developed as an Industry Code in 2003.  The Industry Code replicated the key points of the Telstra Licence Conditions, to offer similar arrangements if they meet the minimum requirements for connection, fault rectification, reliability of residential standard telephone services, provision of interim services and wholesale arrangements.

It would appear that the Code has had the effect of discouraging equivalent type services from other service providers, thus depriving the community of alternate Priority Assistance services and broadening their availability.

The intent of changing the Industry Code to an Industry Guideline is to remove the compulsory elements of the Code whilst also giving service providers guidance on what might be offered. This would allow service providers greater flexibility to craft and provide solutions for their customers without the risk of breaching regulatory compliance under a mandated approach.

The draft Guideline can be downloaded from the Drafts for Public Comment page along with further information on how to submit comments. Information on the Working Committee which developed the Guideline, including the Terms of Reference, can be found here.

All submissions received will be made publicly available on the Communications Alliance website unless the submitter requests otherwise.

The Public Comment for the draft closes at 5:00pm (AEST) on Thursday 27th July 2017.


Comment Sought on Mobile Premium Services Code (DR 637:2011 Incorporating Variation No.1/2017)

Communications Alliance would like to invite public comments on the:

MOBILE PREMIUM SERVICES CODE (DR 637:2011 INCORPORATING VARIATION NO.1/2017).
Please refer to the below for further information.

The Mobile Premium Services Code establishes obligations for appropriate community safeguards and customer service requirements upon suppliers of Mobile Premium Services.

The following Variations to the Code have been proposed:

  • removal of the term ‘Free Msg’ to avoid confusion some consumers are experiencing and to improve the information communicated to consumers;
  • inclusion of the option for End Carriage Suppliers to resolve complaints relating to Mobile Premium Services directly with their Customer; and
  • addition of the term ‘Personal Information’ to align with the Privacy Act.

The draft Code can be downloaded from the Drafts for Public Comment page along with further information on how to submit comments.  Information on the Working Committee which developed the Code, including the Terms of Reference, can be found here.

All submissions received will be made publicly available on the Communications Alliance website unless the submitter requests otherwise.

The Public Comment for the draft closes at 5:00pm (AEST) on Thursday 27th July 2017.


Work on Revising the Customer Cabling Standards is Underway


The Communications Alliance Customer Cabling Installation and Cabling Products Working Committee (WC80) has commenced revising the Requirements for customer cabling products (AS/CA S008) and the Installation requirements for customer cabling (Wiring rules) (AS/CA S009) Standards. These Standards are mandated under the Telecommunication Act and the Cabling Provider Rules and are regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Broadly speaking, customer telecommunications cabling that connects or is intended to connect to a Carrier network must comply with these two Standards, addressing in part the protecting the health and safety of persons and protecting the integrity of a telecommunication network or a facility.

The first meeting of WC80 identified key issues from the submissions received which have been prioritised and are anticipated to draw the main focus of the committee. These issues include:

  • remote powering;
  • pendant communication cabling;
  • direct terminated links;
  • fire handling properties of cables and the alignment with the National Construction Code (NCC) published by the Australian Building Code Board (ABCB); and
  • potential liaison with Standards Australia concerning the AS 1049.1 Telecommunication cables - Insulation, sheath and jacket Materials Standard to address new cable types available in the international marketplace.


Stay-Smart-Online

Australians need to apply latest software updates to protect against new global ransomware campaign: Alert Priority Urgent

Stay Smart Online is urging Australians to apply latest software updates to protect against a new global ransomware campaign which impacted a range of countries overnight.

Media is reporting the ransomware, called ‘Petya’, is spreading in the United States, Europe and Asia.  Petya makes your computer or its files unusable unless you pay a fee (a ransom).  There are emerging reports of Australian organisations being impacted.

In particular, businesses, individuals and households who have not updated their Microsoft Windows software are potentially vulnerable to the virus.

What to do now

There are very simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of your personal and business records being impacted by Petya ransomware.  The top two steps are:

  • Immediately install the latest Windows updates for applications, software and operating systems.  Note that updates are also available for Windows XP.
  • Confirm that backups are available and working – guidance on backups is available for businesses and individuals and households.

Details

Petya – like all ransomware –is a type of malicious software (malware) that makes your computer or its files unusable unless you pay a fee (a ransom).

Ransomware is one of the most frequent and damaging types of malware affecting people today. It can affect both individuals and organisations alike, and can impose significant costs – in both recovery and down time.

More information

Stay Smart Online warned about another ransomware type, WanaCry, on 13 May and provided advice on how to protect yourself and your business on 15 May.

Stay Smart Online has more information on ransomware for businesses and individuals and households, including further steps you can take to reduce your risk of being impacted.

The information provided here is of a general nature. Everyone's circumstances are different. If you require specific advice you should contact your local technical support provider.


Be a Tech23 company - applications now open!

 Tech23

Tech23 2017 is seeking clever startups to be spotlighted at Australia’s celebration of innovation! To be held on Tuesday 10 October 2017 in Sydney, Tech23 brings together exciting startups, enterprise customers, big name investors, and super smart strategists to make great things happen.

Each year, Tech23 introduces 23 young Australian companies to fellow startups, experienced entrepreneurs and investors who are interested in their particular vertical or technology.

Successful Tech23 applicants join an alumni of thriving companies such as BuildingIQ, Culture Amp, Smart Sparrow, Lorica Health, Plutora and Bigtincan.

Tech23 companies also get the opportunity to:

  • Share their ideas or initiatives in 5 minutes to a panel of industry leaders and 400+ key players in the innovation ecosystem
  • Gain publicity and recognition before, during and after Tech23 2017
  • Expand their business network with key players in the ecosystem
  • Win some of the many great prizes on offer including cash, co-working spaces and mentorship
  • Meet their next chairman, investor, advisor, or customer!

It’s free to apply to be a Tech23 2017 company.
You just need to tell us what you do and why your company is unique.
Applications close Monday 7 August 2017.

KEY DATES
7 August 2017 - Applications close
Late August 2017 - 23 companies announced
10 October 2017 - Tech23 2017, Sydney


Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) is Now Accepting Applications

Application deadline is 2 September 2017 by 2:00 PM EAST

Young-Scholar-Program-18

PTC’s Young Scholar Program (YSP) is designed to recognize, encourage, and support up-and-coming scholars in the field of information and communication technologies. Selected participants will be invited to present their research at PTC’s 40th anniversary conference.

Applications are now being accepted for PTC's 2018 YSP.  PTC's YSP offers promising young scholars the opportunity to:

  • Present their research in a high-visibility academic and industry forum
  • Engage in research discussions with esteemed academic faculty
  • Participate in PTC'18 activities
  • Gain exposure to current industry issues and trends
  • Meet PTC'18 attendees to share ideas, gain new insights, and identify practical research applications
  • Network with industry professionals, members of international organizations and NGOs, government officials, and academics from more than 75 countries
To learn more about the YSP program, please email youngscholars@ptc.org.or click here.

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