Licensing and authorisation
What licences/authorisations are required to provide telecoms services?
Telecommunications or carriage services can be provided by carriers or carriage service providers (CSPs). Carriers are persons that own a telecommunications network unit to supply carriage services, while CSPs use a telecommunications network (owned by a carrier) to supply carriage services.
There are four categories of network unit:
- single line links connecting distinct places in Australia;
- multiple line link units connecting distinct places in Australia;
- a designated radiocommunications facility; and
- a telecommunications facility specified by the minister of communications.
A carrier licence is required to supply carriage services using a network unit, unless a nominated carrier declaration is in force in relation to the network unit (where a carrier accepts the carrier-related responsibilities for the network unit).
CSPs are not subject to any licensing requirements, but must comply with various legislation and service provider obligations.
What are the eligibility, documentary and procedural requirements to obtain a licence/authorisation?
Constitutional corporations and eligible partnerships or public bodies may make an application for a carrier licence.
A completed carrier licence application form (available on the website of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)) must be completed and sent to ACMA. The application also sets out compliance requirements under the Telecommunications Act 1997, the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979, the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2009, the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 and the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015.
If ACMA decides to grant a carrier licence, it will give the applicant written notice and publish a notice in the Commonwealth Government Notices Gazette stating that the licence has been granted.
Validity period and renewal
What is the validity period for licences/authorisations and what are the terms of renewal?
There is no specified validity period of a carrier licence. If a carrier no longer meets the eligibility requirements or has failed to pay an annual charge or a telecommunications industry levy, then ACMA may cancel the carrier licence by written notice after providing an opportunity for the carrier to make a submission.
What fees apply?
Carrier licences are subject to application and annual charges. Currently, the application charge is A$2,076 as determined by ACMA in the Telecommunications (Carrier Licence Application Charge) Determination 2012.
Further annual charges apply to participating persons (carriers with eligible revenue greater than A$25 million), and include:
- the annual carrier licence charge (as set out in the specific year’s Annual Carrier Licence Charge Determination) to recover the cost of regulating the telecommunications industry; and
- a telecommunications industry levy to pay both contractor and grant recipients, and administrative costs to ensure the continuity of key telecommunications safeguards.
What is the usual timeframe for obtaining a licence/authorisation?
Where no further information from the applicant or consultation with the communications access coordinator is required, ACMA has 20 business days from when the application is received by the communications access coordinator to decide whether to grant the licence.
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