The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released a three-strand approach to regulating Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services which includes the introduction of a compliance program.
ACMA acting chairman, Chris Cheah, said the new regulatory approach to VoIP aims to strike a balance between being effective while still promoting innovation.
He said it will also provide greater clarity to industry around service provider obligations.
The three-strand approach began with a review of existing regulation and to identify priorities.
Cheah said part two involves engaging industry and finally, the ACMA will put in place a specific compliance program.
To kickstart this process, Cheah released a VoIP engagement strategy, which aims to provide information on the regulatory framework.
"The strategy also intends to inform VoIP carriage service providers on how the suite of regulations applies to them and to outline the types of VoIP services that are subject to regulation," he said.
"ACMA has also set priorities to focus its efforts in 2008; educating parties about their regulatory obligations is an integral part of our compliance activities."
Cheah said the licensing body will work directly with the VoIP industry conducting seminars and meeting directly with service providers.
Initial industry seminars are being arranged for Sydney (May 8) and Melbourne (date to be advised). Providers can register interest by e-mail to VoiceOutlookProject@acma.gov.au.
The ACMA may visit other locations depending on levels of interest.
Service providers and carriers who provide VoIP services in Australia have a number of legal obligations, which are set out in the Telecommunications Act 1997 and the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999.
Earlier this year the ACMA released the results of its Telecommunications Today research program which examined the takeup of telecommunications services in Australia's SME sector.
It found an estimated 13 percent of SMEs are currently using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services with a further 14 per cent planning takeup in the coming year. About 92 percent are connected to the Internet with 91 per cent using broadband. Around 93 per cent of SME's report using a mobile phone.
- With Sandra Rossi