page highlights Australian and overseas advocacy groups
concerned with the GII and NII.
It covers -
questions regarding the nature of advocacy (and its regulation)
are explored here.
Advocacy about the global and national information
infrastructures, in particular the operation of telephone
networks, takes several forms and involves a range of
It involves a continuum that includes -
direct to legislators
to regulators (within government and otherwise) and
representations through the media and at public fora
and publication of research
of advice to decisionmakers, including responses to
draft legislation and industry codes or policy discussion
in consultative and policymaking bodies
election campaigns, office expenses or otherwise "buying
access" to legislators
Advocacy has tended to centre on -
configuration of networks
restrictions on access
competition policy regarding dominant operators (such
as Australia's Telstra and New Zealand's Telecom NZ)
in the and competitors
and conditions in service provision
The Australian Internet Industry Association (IIA)
represents many internet service providers and others,
such as Caslon Analytics, concerned with the web and 'internet
Major overseas equivalents are the US Internet Industry
European Internet Service Providers Association, (EuroISPA),
the Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP)
and Commercial Internet Exchange (CIX).
The Australian Interactive Multimedia Association (AIMIA)
represents multimedia developers
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)
is an industry body along the lines of the Banking Industry
The Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF)
brings together telecommunications companies, users and
others. It is an telecommunications industry
owned, resourced and operated company established in 1997
to implement and manage communication self-regulation
within Australia. ACIF's role is to
and administer technical and operating arrangements
that promote both the long term interests of end-users
and the efficiency and international competitiveness
of the Australian communications industry.
is complemented by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications
Its US counterpart is the Cellular Telecommunications
Industry Association (CTIA).
The Australian Telecommunications Users Group (ATUG)
and Service Providers Industry Association (SPAN)
represent users - in particular large corporate consumers
of telecommunications - and telecommunication companies
The Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC)
is a US-based international telecommunications industry
forum for the Pacific Hemisphere (Asia, the Americas,
Oceania and Australia).
In the US major telco advocates include
US Telecom Association
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
- formed in 1999 as the Internet Advancement Coalition
to "promote public policy initiatives to ensure
the availability of high-speed Internet access, and
of greater choice among high-speed access providers,
to all Americans".
Communications Law & Policy
The Communications Law Centre (CLC)
is an independent research and analysis body hosted by
the University of NSW. We've highlighted its significance
on other guides throughout this site.
The Australian Centre for International Research on Communication
& Information Technologies (CIRCIT)
is also of interest.
In the US the Washington Internet Project (WIP)
raises awareness of telecommunications regulatory issues.
In Australia consumer advocacy bodies with an interest
in telecommunications and the internet include -
Telecommunications Network (CTN)
Enterprise Telecommunications Centre Ltd (SETEL)
Consumers' Association (ACA)
& Disability Consumer Representation (TEDICORE)
for Progressive Communications (APC)
Consumers Federation of Australia
Consumers' Telecommunications Network (CTN)
is "a national coalition of consumer and community
organisations that represents community interests in the
national policy arena on telecommunications issues".
It is an umbrella body of national and state organisations
representing consumers from non-English speaking backgrounds,
deaf consumers, indigenous people, low income consumers,
people with disabilities, pensioners and superannuants,
rural and remote consumers and women. CTN's ambit is restricted
to residential consumers.
Its SME counterpart is the Small Enterprise Telecommunications
Centre Ltd (SETEL),
a "national consumer association advancing the telecommunications
and e-commerce interests of Australian small business".
represents "the interests of disabled telecommunications
consumers and promotes equity and accessibility to the
products and services offered by the telecommunications
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
is concerned with "the internet and ICTs for Social
Justice and Development", somewhat tartly dismissed
by one critic as terribly worthy, terribly self-involved
and truly irrelevant.
The Consumers Federation of Australia (CFA)
was established in 1974 and claims to be "the national
peak body for consumer groups in Australia", with
a primary focus on "advancing the interests of disadvantaged
or vulnerable consumers". Its 95 members include
legal centres, health rights groups, local consumer organisations
and public interest bodies. The Australian Consumers Association
founded in 1959, claims to be the largest consumer organisation
in Australia. It has around 150,000 subscribers to Choice
magazine and other information products.
A 2004 ACA Consumer Driven Communications: Strategies
for Better Representation discussion paper
- arguably doomed to be ignored by government policymakers
- noted that
abiding concern for consumer representatives in telecommunications
is that the current co-regulatory framework for telecommunications
in Australia should be reformed into one that is less
industry dominated and one that is more responsive and
capable to deliver on consumer outcomes. This is likely
to require legislative as well as institutional change.
is advised by the Consumer Consultative Forum (CCF), an
appointed body established by the Australian Communications
Authority Act 1997. ACMA's predecessor the ACA claimed
that such fora
have elevated consumer consultation to a place which
is both practically meaningful and symbolically important.
the US advocates include Telecommunications Research &
How large is expenditure on advocacy regarding the GII
and NII? What is the shape of that advocacy? The answer
is that no one knows for sure - unsurprising given disagreement
about metrics - and that there are few coherent estimates.
The US Center for Public Integrity suggested
in October 2004 that in the US the former 'Baby Bell'
local phone companies and their rivals have spent US$498
million lobbying Congress and the executive branch since
1998 in an effort to influence federal telecommunications
policy, with Verizon for example spending US$102 million.
The oil and gas industry spent U$396 million during the
same period. US broadcasters, cable networks and telecommunications
companies spent an estimated US$169.2 million on lobbying
in 2003. One response has been the call
your pension plan not to invest in BellSouth or in any
other company lobbying to undermine the Internet.
The ACA paper noted above comments ambitiously that
of the funding model for acceptable regulatory processes
must be arms-length funding for an adequate representation
of consumer interests. This entails funding for travel,
research, constituent consultation, document review
and sitting fees. This must be achieved without compromising
the independence of the representative(s). It is important
for those accommodating consumer representation to appropriately
recognise the value of what are often voluntary contributions
and to have reasonable expectations in terms of response
times and workloads.