Swain welcomes telco group

Telecommunications Minister Paul Swain says he's delighted the industry has finally established a group that will play a part in regulating the industry

Telecommunications Minister Paul Swain says he's delighted the industry has finally established a group that will play a part in regulating the industry.

Telecom, TelstraClear and Vodafone, along with the telecommunications user group, TUANZ, say they have now agreed on how the forum will operate.

The forum, a recommendation of the telecommunications inquiry, has been months in the planning with disagreement on all sides over a number of issues, chief of which was the issue of voting procedures.

A compromise means any decision reached by the forum on non-regulated codes will require a unanimous vote -- from the big three and two votes to be shared between the smaller industry players -- before it is put into practice.

TUANZ chief executive Ernie Newman says there will be those that think this makes the forum toothless.

"We've accepted the reality that you can't force people to accept the outcome of a voluntary institution. The important thing is there's a place where the issues can be aired and tabled and we can get a working party set up to look at the issue."

However, a simple majority is all that's required to get an issue tabled and sent to a working party for assessment.

In February Swain threatened to step in and set the rules for the forum himself unless the major telcos and TUANZ managed to reach a workable solution. He would rather have stayed out of the process.

"I was keen not to be involved. I've always been of the opinion that it is an industry forum and should be established and run by the industry itself."

Swain isn't worried by the need for a unanimous vote for non-regulated code. "These are the kinds of issues that we in government would have had to work out and put in place so it's good that the industry itself has reached this decision."

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