Statutory Infrastructure Provider Regime

The Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) regime is set out in Part 19 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Act) and commenced on 1 July 2020. It aims to ensure that all people in Australia can access high speed broadband services. Under the Act, NBN Co Limited is the default SIP for Australia. However, the SIP regime provides for alternative carriers to become SIPs for the geographic areas in which they deploy telecommunications networks.

There are three main routes by which alternative carriers become the SIPs for service areas: through deeming provisions in the statute; through carrier nominations; or by Ministerial designation. There are a number of carriers that have become SIPs under the regime. A full list of SIPs is on the SIP register maintained by the ACMA, and is updated regularly.

SIPs have an obligation to connect premises in their service areas to their telecommunications networks, and supply wholesale services. The wholesale services must allow the retail provider to supply 'qualifying carriage services', which are broadband services with peak download and upload speeds of at least 25/5 Mbps. On fixed-line and fixed-wireless networks, the wholesale services SIPs supply must also be able to support voice services.

The ACMA is responsible for enforcing SIP obligations and monitoring compliance, if a provider does not meet its obligations, the ACMA can use a range of enforcement mechanisms, including: formal warnings; infringement notices, and remedial directions.

There are limited circumstances where connection and supply obligations do not apply. These circumstances are outlined in a newly updated Telecommunications (Statutory Infrastructure Providers—Circumstances for Exceptions to Connection and Supply Obligations) Determination 2024.

The determination addresses real-world issues where SIPs may be required to reject a request for connection or supply, for example where it is not safe for SIP employees to undertake work or construction works are not sufficiently progressed to allow broadband services to be installed. Importantly, the exemptions will only apply until the issue in question is remedied. The Determination and associated explanatory materials help developers understand what they need to do to get developments connected to broadband.

What's new

The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Enhancing Consumer Safeguards and Other Measures) Act 2024 gives Australians greater certainty about telecommunications access.

The new legislation, is now in force and makes a number of changes to telecommunications consumer safeguards to make them more effective.

Changes to the Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) regime ensure Australians can access high-speed broadband wherever they live and work.

The SIP regime also now provides greater certainty to consumers where their current SIP chooses to stop offering services. The SIP will be required to provide sufficient notice to NBN Co which, as the default SIP for Australia, will then have time to provide alternative infrastructure for consumers.

The new legislation also: