The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the inter-connection of many devices and objects utilising internet protocols, and it is yet another phase in the convergence of communications and its role as a fundamental enabler within the wider economy.
While there are many different projections about the likely number of connected devices in Australia, there is a growing industry consensus that IoT will be characterised by a rapid increase in the number of connected devices and a rapid evolution in the range of associated applications and services on offer as a consequence. Significant productivity benefits are also expected to be realised, with a recent McKinsey & Company report estimating a potential global economic impact of IoT applications of $11.1 trillion (USD) per year in 2025.
Australia is well placed to realise a share of these potential productivity gains, with the Australian communications and digital information industries demonstrating significant capacity over many years in leading and responding to change. Australian consumers and citizens have also shown a similar appetite for embracing new forms of communications technology and adapting their communications practices.
As the regulator for communications and media, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) is assessing how existing regulation can be used to facilitate and enable Australian businesses and citizens to benefit from IoT innovations. To date, the ACMA has responded to requests by industry participants seeking clarification about spectrum availability to support IoT applications. This has prompted the ACMA to therefore consider more broadly the other aspects of its regulatory remit that may be used to facilitate IoT developments in Australia.
In this paper, the ACMA has focused on aspects of its regulatory remit that support the following enablers of the IoT: infrastructure connectivity, using telephone numbers and spectrum devices, including device standards digital data and information the capabilities of Australian businesses, consumers and citizens to manage multiple devices, connections and information. The analysis looks at the likely sources of regulatory pressure that will arise in an environment characterised by multiple and complex connections of devices, such as machine-to-machine (M2M) connections as well as the connection of digital information. It examines the existing regulatory settings and underpinnings of regulatory concepts that have an ongoing utility in supporting the complex connections of an IoT environment.