Australia and Singapore-Facilities-Based and Service-Based Licensing

Editor’s Note:


The following information was reported in ITU Trends in Telecommunications Reform – 2004/05:  Licensing in an Era of Convergence (Geneva:  ITU, 2004), and was adapted from the website of the Australian Communications Authority [on-line at:] and from the website of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore [on-line at:].







In Australia, the main entities regulated by the Telecommunications Act of 1997 are “carriers” and “service providers.”


Carriers own specified infrastructure facilities or “network units.”  There are four types of network units:


(1)  lines connecting distinct places in Australia where the link meets certain minimum distance requirements;

(2)  satellite-based facilities used to supply carriage services between two or more points in Australia;

(3)  base stations used for mobile services or wireless local loop services; and

(4) certain fixed radio communications links.

Carriers must have individual licences issued by the national regulatory authority, the Australian Communications Authority (ACA).  A carrier licence authorizes the owner of network units to supply telecommunication services to the public.  Licence conditions oblige carriers to meet certain requirements, including a Universal Service Obligation (USO), payment of annual license fees, fulfilment of industry development plans, and compliance with the telecommunication access regime.  There is no limit on the number of carrier licences that may be issued by the ACA.


Service providers include “carriage service providers” and “content service providers.”  The former supplies common carriage service to the public using network units owned by a carrier.  A content service provider supplies content to the public – through electronic publishing or pay TV, for example.  Service providers are not subject to individual licensing requirements, but they must comply with legislated rules and provisions of the Telecommunications Act.  These mandate that service providers offer operator and directory assistance services, itemized billing, and number database information.




There are two classes of licences in Singapore:  “facilities-based operator” (FBO) licences and “service-based operator” (SBO) permits. The FBO licence is always an individual licence, while the SBO authorization may be an individual licence or a class licence.  All providers of telecommunication services (including enhanced services) must be licensed. Apart from spectrum-related licences, there is no limit on the number of licences that may be issued by the national regulatory authority, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).


In general, operators that install or operate any kind of network infrastructure require an FBO licence.  This includes international and domestic wireless transmission or switching facilities; public cellular mobile networks; paging networks; public mobile data and trunked radio services; and local multipoint distribution services.  Wireless services are licensed separately, pursuant to spectrum management policies.  Where spectrum scarcity is an issue, a comparative selection or auction process may be used to distribute spectrum licences.


Individual SBO licences are required for international simple resale; resale of leased circuits; virtual private network services; managed data network services, Internet access; Internet exchange services; mobile virtual networks; and live audio-text services.  The SBO class licences cover simple resale of public switched telephony; international call-back services; Internet-based voice or data services; and international calling card services.  Class licensees may offer their services without obtaining a specific authorization, but they are subject to all relevant codes of practice and service-quality standards.










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