Policy changes on telco provision in new developments

Federal Government policy changes to improve the delivery of telecommunications services in new developments were announced this week.

Designed to provide Australians moving into new apartment and housing developments with better and cheaper access to high-speed broadband services, the Telecommunications in New Developments policy “provides a modernised framework for the deployment of services while fostering greater competition between network providers”.

Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the policy, last updated in 2015, reflects the modern telco landscape, and will promote a more efficient, competitive and sustainable marketplace in servicing new developments.

The policy also reflects the new landmark Statutory Infrastructure Provider laws introduced in July 2020, under which carriers contracted to service new developments will be required to provide infrastructure and services for those developments on an ongoing basis.

In related news, options for reducing costs for households affected by the failure of developers to install appropriate telecommunications facilities in new suburbs have been publicly released.

While not a widespread issue in new housing developments, a lack of “fibre-ready” facilities (pit and pipe infrastructure) can lead to inconvenience and added costs for households wanting high-speed broadband access.

To mitigate consumer disadvantage and to provide a more effective model that states and territories can reflect in their planning laws if they wish, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications has prepared a Regulation Impact Statement canvassing seven legislative options.

Comments on the options in the RIS are now being sought, with submissions to new.developments@communications.gov.au closing on 29 September.