2.1 Communications Alliance Standards development and maintenance

Operating procedures

The operating procedures for the development of Standards, Codes and Guidelines by Communications Alliance are provided in the Communications Alliance Operating Manual.

In summary, the objectives of the Operating Manual are to:

  • adopt disciplines of project management for the control and monitoring of the development process.
  • be consistent with the requirements of the Constitution.
  • be flexible, open and transparent.
  • enable timely outcomes.
  • encourage and facilitate wide consultation with all stakeholders.
  • have the objective of achieving a Consensus outcome.
  • to meet the requirements under Part 21 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 and to meet the requirements for accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Standards Development Organisations.

Standards called up under telecommunications legislation

Under the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Act), the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has the power to make Standards. A Memorandum of Understanding between the ACMA (previously the Australian Communications Authority (ACA)) and the Communications Alliance (then the Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF)) gives Communications Alliance responsibility for the development and maintenance of Standards that are called up under the Act. This co-regulatory approach allows the telecommunications industry to play a major role in determining what Standards are required for the manufacture, importation and use of Customer Equipment in connection with a telecommunication network in Australia.

The objectives of the Act are designed to provide a safety-net to promote the long-term interest of end users as well as promoting the development of an Australian telecommunications industry that is efficient, competitive and responsive to the needs of the Australian community.

Accredited Standards Development Organisation

Communications Alliance is an accredited Standards Development Organisation by the Accreditation Board for Standards Development Organisations (ABSDO). This accreditation demonstrates that Communications Alliance has the standing, resources, processes, neutrality and independence to develop Australian Standards.

Further information on Australian Standards can be found in the Standards Australia Standardisation Guide SG-003 on ‘Standards and other publications’ and Standardisation Guide SG-006 on ‘Rules for the Structure and drafting of Australian Standards’.

Project identification

The Customer Equipment and Cable Reference Panel identifies the need for a project to develop a new document or to revise an existing document. This Panel generally establishes a Working Group whose task is typically to develop an Activity Proposal defining the work to be carried out, including the scope of work, timeframe, resourcing and deliverables.

Revising publications

If the activity is a revision of an existing publication (document maintenance) then the procedures in the Communications Alliance Document Maintenance Policy and Process are followed. All publications under the Customer Equipment and Cable Reference Panel undergo a periodic review every five years. The outcome of the review of a document will be a decision to revise, amend (in the case of Standards), reconfirm, to list as available superseded or to withdraw the published document.

The following lists a number of issues for consideration when prioritising a review:

  • the objectives of the Telecommunications Act 1997.
  • identification of key drivers, needs and gaps (both industry and consumer).
  • the relative importance and usage of the Standard.
  • addressing any known problems with the Standard or within the scope of the Standard.
  • if there are other more appropriate mechanisms available.
  • any unintended consequences arising from the review.
  • any impact on existing Standards development.
  • the consequence of not carrying out a review of the Standard.
  • available resources of industry participants for the Working Committees for the duration of the project.
  • resources of Communications Alliance project management.
  • the priority and/or urgency of review request from an external party.
  • the current workload of the Reference Panel.
  • the industry commitment to carry out the project.
  • any other related external factors.

Working Committee Operations

On CEO approval, a Working Committee is established to carry out the project. The Working Committee processes are documented in the Communications Alliance Operating Manual, including:

  • representation, including voting and non-voting members.
  • Working Committee responsibilities.
  • the consensus approach.
  • project phases, including public comment (a minimum of 60 days), process approval and balloting.
  • recommendations to the ACMA for Standard making.

Guidance is provided for Chairpersons and committee members who are on Working Committees developing standards.


On completion the Working Committee’s work, the new (or revised) document is submitted for approval to publish by the Communications Alliance Board. If the publication is to be submitted to the ACMA (for making in the case of a Standard or for registration in the case of a Code), then a recommendation is developed and sent to the ACMA. Further information can be found in the Communications Alliance Operating Manual.

Queries on published Standards

As the developer and publisher of Standards, Communications Alliance provides an Expression of Intent service to address queries on the intent of existing wording of these Standards. Further information can be can in the Expressions of intent Procedure.

With respect to handling queries on Standards which have been made by the ACMA, it is important to understand that the rationale and meaning of the technical requirements is handled by Communications Alliance and the application of the Standard, including compliance issues, is handled by the ACMA.