Broadband Services Expert Group Recommendations
by way of firstname.lastname@example.org
Wed, 1 Mar 1995 17:12:36 +1000
A NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR NEW COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
The Expert Group believes that new communications services
will be fundamental to Australia's future. Communications
industries themselves - whether producing equipment,
content, or carrying services - are among the fastest
growing industries, and are making a vital contribution to
our exports. Even more importantly they are crucial to the
competitiveness of virtually all other industries.
Australia's future depends on its success as
an information society.
Because our business competitiveness will be so dependent on
the use of new communications services, the Expert Group
believes that, while the following recommendations are
largely directed to government, business also must be
encouraged to take up the challenges offered and to play its
part in the development of an information society.
Our success must be built on the talents and enthusiasm of
Australians, particularly business and young people, and on
widespread reach of new communications services.
The Expert Group proposes that a National Strategy for New
communications Networks be implemented based on three key
elements: education and community access; industry
development; and the role of government. The strategy would
be underpinned by a commitment to education and equity of
access. The new communications technologies have
the potential to improve the quality of learning in schools,
and to make a major contribution to equity in educational
opportunity across the country: Links to schools and other
The Expert Group recommends that, with the spread of
broadband infrastructure, broadband links be provided to
all schools, libraries, medical and community centres by the
The Cooperative Multimedia Centres should also be linked to
this network. In the interim, the Group recommends that
schools and libraries be connected to available
narrowband digital links for access to information services
such as the Internet. The Group recommends that connections
be funded on a dollar-for-dollar basis by the
State/Territory and Commonwealth Governments.
National Strategy for Broadband Networking in Education
The Expert Group recommends the development of a National
Strategy for Broadband Networking in Education in
anticipation of the extension of high capacity links to
educational institutions by 2001. The Group recommends that
Open Net be funded to administer a program of pilot projects
on broadband services such as the sharing of visual
resources through, for example, image libraries.
Complementing the schools-based education elements, there
needs to be an approach to training and use of services
within the community:
The Expert Group recommends that, as communications services
Funding for extension of new infrastructure and technology
to educational institutions (such as TAFEs) should include
significant training and support components.
Funds should be made available to community organisations
for targeted training programs.
Government funded support for training facilities and
personnel should be made available at libraries and
Community applications fund
The Expert Group recommends that the Department of
Communications and the Arts administer a program to support
innovative applications of communications services by the
community sector. Initial funding of $10 million should be
made available over three years.
The Group proposes action to stimulate the development of
Australian industries as the second leg of the strategy:
Industry development plans
The Expert Group recommends that the Government require all
cable network operators involved in broadb and service
provision to implement industry development plans for the
telecommunications supply industry.
Extension of networks
The Expert Group recommends that telecommunications carriers
and broadband network operators be required to inform
government annually of their strategies for upgrading their
networks, including the expected level of digitisation of
existing network services, and the expected extent of
broadband network coverage. This requirement should be
reviewed by the
Services and applications
The Expert Group recommends that a priority element of a
national strategy for new communications networks be
acceleration of the development, demonstration and use of
networked services and applications.
The Expert Group recommends that providers of broadband
entertainment and information services be obliged to commit
at least 10 per cent of their expenditure on content to new
Australian content. The obligation should be reviewed by
the year 2000.
Business and government must play a role, both as major
users of communications networks and by working together to
develop an appropriate regulatory environment to support the
introduction of new services. The Expert Group believes
that the business sector is well placed to make use of new
services, and must use its leverage within the Australian
and international economies to lead the adoption of
innovative and beneficial broadband services. The
Government's role will be especially important in leading
the development of services that have particular social
Government use of networks
The Expert Group recommends that the Commonwealth Government
should establish a fund, to be allocated on a matching-funds
basis, to projects for new networked information
services put forward by agencies. Preference should be
given to those projects with the greatest user benefits and
widest applicability as a model for other government
The Commonwealth should wherever possible participate in
pilot projects such as those proposed by Telstra.
Open access to networks
The Expert Group recommends that, once interactive services
develop, the communications regulatory regime should promote
open and equitable access arrangements for users,
service providers and broadband carriers (recognising the
necessity of a period of transition from pay television to
broadband services to ensure there is no delay in the
roll-out of cable in Australia). This should be based on
diverse and flexible pricing arrangements, pricing
transparency in the provision of carriage and content, and
commercially negotiated connection charges.
The Expert Group recommends that the privacy of users of
advanced networks be protected by developing a
self-regulatory scheme for network participants within the
framework of the Privacy Act.
Conditional access systems
The Expert Group recommends that existing classification
systems be applied to equivalent material commercially
available on the new networks.
The Expert Group recommends that network operators and
service providers be obliged to offer facilities, such as
personal identification numbers, through which parents can
restrict access to particular types of material.
To support the National Strategy, the Group believes that
some continuing mechanisms for providing advice and for
consultation with the community on future information and
communications issues will be needed.
National Information Services Council
The Expert Group recommends that, to provide leadership for
the national strategy, the Government establish a National
Information Services Council, chaired by the Prime
Minister, and in his absence the Minister for Communications
and the Arts, and including visionary and informed people
drawn from industry, creators, carriers, users, consumers
Ministerial Committee on National Information Services
The Expert Group recommends that the Government establish a
Ministerial Committee on National Information Services, to
be chaired by the Minister for Communications and the
Arts, with membership including the Ministers for Finance,
Industry, Science and Technology, Consumer Affairs, and
Employment, Education and Training. The Committee would
have responsibility for coordination of policy across the
relevant sectors, including government use of networks.
The involvement of the States is vital, so the Council of
Australian Governments should be involved in the discussion
of national information services issues.
The Group believes that there may be a need for other bodies
to support the Council on particular issues. It recommends
that the Council should review existing arrangements as
well as look at the issues of how best to assess community
needs for new communications services and develop standards,
and consider the need for a sub-group on standards:
Broadband Standards Advisory Group
A Broadband Standards Advisory Group, chaired by industry,
to address networking standards issues and to advise on
standards development and implementation.
The Group also believes that there is a need for further
research into the communications needs of consumers as
services evolve in the future. The Group considers that a
Commonwealth government research agency, such as the Bureau
of Transport and Communications Economics, would be
appropriately placed to conduct this research.
Research into Consumer Needs
The Group recommends that a Commonwealth government research
agency, such as the Bureau of Transport and Communications
Economics, should be funded to coordinate a program of
social research to identify the needs of particular groups
of telecommunications consumers that are not currently being