Title: Regulating over-the-top services in Australia - from universal service obligation scheme to OTT regulation

Authors: Grace Li

Addresses: Faculty of Law, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia

Abstract: Despite the fact that there is no widely accepted definition, over-the-top (OTT) content normally describes broadband delivery of video and audio services without a multiple system operator being involved in the control or distribution of the content. OTT starts from online streaming TV programmes or videos. To date, it has extended into other services such as instant messaging services by using smartphone apps. OTT providers are not the content owners but the network operators. At the same time, they are independent and separated from the network carriers. In the past few years, the OTT services have entered into the content field with a rather quick pace and competing with the traditional players in many ways. With the entry of OTT providers in this field, the current USO scheme can become problematic. In this context, this paper examines the current USO scheme in Australia against an overall exanimation of OTT related regulations in the country. It finds that there is a lack of regulation on OTT service provision in Australia. This paper attempts to argue that although there might not be a specific reason to include the OTT players in the current USO scheme, there should be a general policy consideration on the OTT service provision to avoid possible confusion in the coming years, especially in implementing the Convergence Review recommendations.

Keywords: over-the-top; OTT services; OTT content; USO scheme; content providers; telecommunications; Australia; universal service obligation; OTT regulations.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPL.2015.066715

International Journal of Private Law, 2015 Vol.8 No.1, pp.30 - 40

Published online: 03 Jan 2015 *

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