In many areas, traditional regulation—designed to manage content and communications services delivered by network owners over dedicated networks and devices—is being overtaken by technology.
These emerging trends suggest there are new ways to understand and achieve reliable communications.
Trend 1—communications goes OTT
Consumers are increasingly using services delivered ‘over-the-top’ (OTT) of the communications network—for example, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) and OTT mobile messaging applications like WhatsApp. Globally, the volume of OTT mobile messages sent has overtaken SMS traffic. Historically, telecommunications regulation has covered voice communications delivered over the copper network, but this now represents a declining set of communications services. Expanding take-up and use of OTT services suggests it is timely to look again at how existing regulation might align with OTT consumer use and behavior.
Trend 2—consumers build their own communications links
Rather than relying on devices such as phones and computers that are closely associated with specific networks or applications, we can mix and match devices, networks and services. If one way of communicating is not working, we can often just choose a different option. Instead of using regulation to ensure there is one—exceptionally robust—communications channel for everyone, in this environment a consumer often has multiple pathways to achieve a reliable network and service connection.
Trend 3—wearable devices: personalized data arrives
Growing numbers of internet-accessible devices allow users to track their activities—for example, wearable devices collect a broad range of continuous observed data, including biometric, location and communications information. Wearable devices may provide new avenues to deliver important consumer and market outcomes. For example, there is the potential for devices to automatically contact emergency services and instantaneously transmit detailed health and situational information. There is a concurrent growing interest in privacy and security management as increasing amounts of personal data are generated by these devices.
Trend 4—flexible TV: online expands consumer options
Broadcast television viewing retains its hold on audiences, but OTT video content (including catch-up television) is now a commonly used complementary platform. Half of online Australians watched some form of internet television within a six-month period.In some cases, this means the same content, delivered by the same content producer, is regulated differently depending on the distribution network used. This inconsistency is expected to become even more pronounced as the take-up and availability of online video services increases in today’s communication landscape.