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Bill will establish an Electronic Communications Authority

Long-awaited legislation to regulate electronic communications was tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday.

The Regulatory Authority Act 2011 and the Electronic Communications Act 2011 propose an overhaul of the telecommunications sector and the creation of a Regulatory Authority.

The Electronic Communications Act establishes the regulatory framework of any electronic communication other than broadcast, while the Regulatory Authority Act establishes an authority to regulate the sector.

The Authority would, according to the legislation, would have $3.5 million in operating capital, and could raise additional funds through service fees and general regulatory fees, potentially a percentage of the service providers total or relevant turnover.

The exact rate and nature of the fees will be submitted in a request to the responsible minister along with the Authority’s budget.

Industry leaders have previously expressed concern about the potential cost of fees imposed by the Authority, which was said to cost as much as $9 million a year.

However Walter Roban, the former Minister for the Environment, Planning and Social Infrastructure said that Government would help fund the Authority, at least for the first year.

According to the legislation, the Authority would have a board of three commissioners and a chief executive, each serving a three-year term, and would have the power to grant licences and permits required to establish an electronic communications network or service.

The legislation also lays out the responsibilities of service providers, forbidding dominant providers from abusing their position to restrict competition or using unfair trade practices.

The Authority would be able to conduct an investigation, and those found in breach of the act can be punished with fines of up to $50,000 and two years imprisonment.

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Published November 28, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated November 28, 2011 at 9:00 am)

Bill will establish an Electronic Communications Authority

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