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30th Telecommunications carrier licence issued

Acting Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts

The Acting Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Mr Peter McGauran, today congratulated Communication Site Rentals (CSR) Pty Ltd on receiving the 30th telecommunications carrier licence issued by the Australian Communications Authority.

In the two years since the Government legislated to provide for open competition in the telecommunications industry the number of carriers has risen from 3 in June 1997 to the current 30.

'The entry of new carriers into the market place is providing real benefits to consumers and helping to build a telecommunications carrier industry that is capable of serving Australians into the next century,' Mr McGauran said.

As a result of enhanced competition in the telecommunications industry, Australian consumers can now make long distance voice calls on the fixed network for up to 60% less than the standard Telstra price available at 30 June 1997, and in the case of international fixed network voice calls, the reductions have generally been greater (up to 80%).

The carriers are engaging in substantial infrastructure investment in optic fibre, mobile, satellite and other systems that are capable of serving capital city and regional users.

'This investment is creating new opportunities for the hardware and software industries that supply products and services to the carriers,' Mr McGauran said.

'The Government has stimulated activity in the telecommunications industry by opening the carrier market to full competition and through arrangements to maximise benefits for industries that supply products to the carriers.'

Under the Telecommunications Act 1997, organisations granted a telecommunications carrier licence must have an approved industry development plan (IDP) addressing activities in several key areas which aim to promote industry growth.

Undertakings by the 30 licensed carriers over the life of their IDPs include:

capital expenditure of $15 billion; research and development expenditure of $860 million; and expenditure on training of more than $600 million.

Carriers have made substantial progress towards achieving these undertakings. During 1997-98, the first year of open competition, activities by the carriers included:

turnover of $20 billion dollars (net of inter-carrier payments); a total of $5.1 billion in capital investment; more than $420 million of expenditure on research and development by the carriers and their alliance partners; exports of $631 million-these exports were mostly undertaken by the carriers' strategic suppliers as a result of their relationships with the carriers; expenditure of $225 million on training activities; and a range of activities aimed at providing improved access and services for people with disabilities.

A list of licensed carriers is available from the Australian Communications Authority's website at http://www.aca.gov.au/licence/carrier/carriers.htm.

Copies of the Telecommunications Carrier Industry Development Plans Progress Report, 1997-98 may be obtained from the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts on (02) 6271 1758, or online from the department's website: http://www.dcita.gov.au.

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