Conference paper

The rise and rise of content: Challenges to the regulation of voice and content in the next generation

20 Nov 2008

Next generation networks ('NGN') are just around the corner. NGNs will be capable of carrying all forms of communications _ voice, data and all types of content _ at very high speeds, at very high volumes and in diverse technical ways. Whilst the current regulatory regime in Australia which governs such networks is very telecommunications-centric, such a narrow focus is likely to be challenged by emerging technological developments, for example convergence of mobile telephony with internet content, IPTV, subscription TV and internet-based conferencing. The existing relevant regulatory provisions which govern these matters (principally under the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth), the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (Cth) and the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth)) are deliberately broad and flexible in their application. However, they face imminent challenges. In an NGN environment, the separation of the transport and application service layers will strain the distinction between carriage and content and it is likely that policy makers will need to review the regulatory framework in this regard. Moreover, the convergence of methods of content delivery will challenge content regulation _ a matter which has recently focused the attention of the Australian Media and Communications Authority ('ACMA').1 This paper is divided into two Parts, each examining a quite distinct area of concern in the emerging NGN world: Part 1 considers a challenge to traditional voice telecommunications regulation; and Part 2 considers a variety of challenges to content regulation.

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