Wireless Without Licence

Australia’s Wireless hotspot providers won’t be required to obtain a carrier’s
licence to operate.

Companies such as SkyNetGlobal,
Xone and Azure
are breathing a collective sigh of relief
following a decision by the Federal Government. The Minister for Communications
has announced a ministerial determination that exempts hotspot providers from
undertaking the costly process of obtaining a telecommunication carriers licence
to operate.

Senator Richard Alston told the 802.11 Planet
“he signed the determination to make the
carrier licensing obligations of the Telecommunications Act 1997 operate in a
technologically neutral manner.”

Prior to the announcement, the use of wireless equipment in hotspots and
Internet cafes was unclear. Companies could have been subject to licensing
obligations, costing $10 000 in application fees and an annual percentage of
service revenue.

“By treating wireless technologies similarly to cable-based networks,”
Senator Alston said, “businesses using wireless technologies will not be
unfairly disadvantaged by the carrier licensing obligations. This will encourage
new players to enter the market and develop innovative technologies that will
boost the Australian ICT sector.”

“The Government recognises that wireless technologies offer significant
benefits for consumers,” he added, “with the potential to become a significant
alternative broadband access technology in Australia.”

Earlier this year, Senator Alston announced an inquiry into wireless
broadband, which is near completion. The inquiry considered the benefits and
limitations of wireless broadband and the impact on the telecommunications
regulatory regime.

The ministerial declaration may also have impacts for regional areas. Senator
Alston said the outcomes of the inquiry may spark widespread reform and “the
Government was willing to look at extending the exemption to regional

Telecommunications analyst, Paul Budde, has
the inquiry as “nothing more than a
smoke-screen, to divert attention from Telstra and its broadband network.” He
believes 802.11 is a “great technology for its niche market (business
travellers) but is absolutely unsuited to large-scale and high-density services.
All wireless broadband technologies together including satellite will never
capture more than 20%, perhaps 30% of the total market.”

Reprinted from australia.internet.com.

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