Australia’s top telecommunications regulator is trying to ban the installation of light-emitting diodes (LED) in the homes of many people, in a move that the opposition says is a step towards forcing internet service providers (ISPs) to let users use the internet.
A decision by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will be presented to the Australian Government’s legislative committee next week, and is likely to be greeted with much anger by internet users and internet service companies (ISP) like iiNet and Telstra.
It is expected to be opposed by ISPs and internet users who say that installing the LEDs would hamper their ability to provide the best services to their customers.
The decision comes after a series of reports and hearings in Australia’s lower courts, including in a case brought by the consumer group Consumer Watchdog and consumer rights group Electronic Frontiers Australia.
The hearings and reports have revealed that the ACMA has been unable to get its way in the past, and it is likely that the new proposal will be rejected.
In January, the ACMAA voted in favour of introducing an “online-only” requirement in the Telecommunications Act which would allow ISPs to opt-out of lightbulbs that emit light.
But the ACCA’s chair, the independent Senator Richard Colbeck, said the internet would suffer if lightbulb manufacturers did not comply with the requirement.
“The Australian consumer will be paying for this decision to be made by a committee that has not even heard the evidence, and we believe the decision to ban LEDs is a further attempt by the ACCMAA to impose its own vision of the future on Australians,” Mr Colbeck said.
“We believe the public will be frustrated by the delay and uncertainty this proposal will create for Australians.”
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is currently considering whether to allow internet providers to impose the “online” requirement.
The ACCC is also considering whether the internet can be treated like a common carrier under the Telecommunications Acts.
If the ACCC makes a decision to grant internet service as a common service, it will be up to the telecommunications regulator to decide whether to impose restrictions on the use of the internet, such as a blackout of internet access.
The internet is currently provided by different companies across the country, with some internet service users unable to access the internet in their homes due to congestion or poor internet speeds.
“Lightbulbs have a role in the internet and should be used appropriately,” ACMA chairman Richard Colbecks spokesman, Michael O’Neill, said in a statement.
“It is our view that if there is an internet service that is more efficient, cheaper and reliable, then the ACCCA’s own research and analysis should be undertaken.”
That is why we have been able to work collaboratively with the ACCAC and other bodies to produce a report and recommendations.
“Mr Colbeck has said that the proposal will not affect any existing ISPs, and will be reviewed by the regulator once the decision is made.”
Our view is that the internet should be the common carrier of Australia, and that it should not be the sole provider of broadband services to Australians,” he said.
The Australian Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (AEEE) has previously described lightbulbes as a “bad investment”.
The AEEE said that LEDs are not a substitute for real-world wiring and that the devices emit less light than incandescents.”
They are far more expensive and less efficient,” AEEe spokesperson Paul Latham said in an emailed statement.