Major changes have been occurring in the telecommunication services industry as a result of the 1997 legislative changes, particularly the deregulation of the telecommunications market and the introduction of open competition. The Telecommunications Act 1997 allows any person to provide a range of telecommunication services, provided they comply with the provisions of the Act. Providers may use telecommunications capacity acquired from a licensed carrier or, in defined circumstances, from non-carrier infrastructure, to supply a range of local or national telecommunication services to consumer and commercial markets. Service providers typically purchase network capacity from carriers at discounted rates. In theory this allows them to provide either similar services at competitive prices or a variety of value-added services. These services include basic telephony services, mobile phone services, data and value-added services, Internet services and other telecommunication services.
The number of licensed telecommunication carriers operating in Australia has increased from 3 at June 1997 to 72 at June 2000. At June 1999, there were around 850 service providers, over 520 of these mainly engaged in providing Internet services. This was a substantial increase from June 1997, when there were just 411 service providers, just over 300 of these being Internet service providers. These numbers exclude businesses for which telecommunication service provision was a minor part of their business operation. The following section, Internet activity, provides updated information on the number of Internet Service Providers at end June 2001.
Table 24.4 shows summary indicators of the performance of the ABS telecommunication services industry from surveys conducted in 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1998-99. The strong growth in this industry is demonstrated by the growth in total income by 25% or $5.2b over the three years to 1998-99, to reach a little over $26b.
24.4 TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICES INDUSTRY(a), Summary Indicators
|Businesses at 30 June |
|Employment at 30 June |
|Income from IT&T services |
|Total income |
|Total expenses |
|Operating profit before tax |
|(a) Excludes businesses for which telecommunication service provision was a minor part of their business operation.|
Source: Information Technology, Australia, 1998-99 (8126.0).