Communications in Australia

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Telecommunications in Australia deals with telecommunications in Australia, involving the availability and use of electronic devices and services, such as the telephone, television, radio or computer, for the purpose of communication.

Telecommunications is an important aspect of the Australian economy. The sector is currently dominated by Telstra, which is a former government monopoly. Other telecommunications providers include Optus (owned by Singapore Telecommunications), AAPT and Powertel (both owned by Telecom New Zealand), Soul (SP Telemedia), Vodafone and Hutchison 3G (3 Mobile). The sector is in a state of rapid growth and technological development, and subject to frequent changes of participants in the sector.

Section 51(v) of the Australian Constitution gives the national government power over all postal, telegraphic, telephonic and 'other like services'. The phrase 'and other like services' has empowered the federal government to expand its legislative power with technological developments over time, such as into radio, television and now the internet.




Following federation, the colonial networks (staff, switches, wires, handsets, buildings etc) were transferred to the Commonwealth and became the responsibility of the first Postmaster-General (PMG), a federal Minister overseeing the Postmaster-General's Department that managed all domestic telephone, telegraph and postal services. With 16,000 staff (and assets of over £6 million) it accounted for 90% of the new federal bureaucracy. That figure climbed to over 120,000 staff (around 50% of the federal bureaucracy) by the late sixties.

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