A new report highlighting the importance of the telecommunications industry to the Australian economy should act as a reminder to the federal government when developing policy, according to Communications Alliance chief executive John Stanton.
The Connected Nation report was commissioned by the telco industry group and completed by Deloitte Access Economics. The report runs a ruler over direct and indirect contributions to the economy by the telco sector and emphasises its role in innovation and technological growth.
The report found that the telco industry directly contributes more than $51 billion to the Australian economy annually and provides more than 350,000 jobs (87,300 directly). It said that the Australian economy is 6.5 per cent or $126 billion larger this year thanks to the industry.
It also hailed the sector as a “horizontal enabler”, facilitating innovation in other areas of the economy.
The findings should motivate the federal government to develop growth-friendly policies and avoid ones that could curtail the sector such as the recently passed encryption rules, Mr Stanton said.
“Hopefully this research and, in particular, the scale of investment by the telco sector and the productivity benefits that a sector generates across the whole economy will remind government to look through a wider lens when considering changes to the environment in which telco operates,” Mr Stanton told InnovationAus.com.
“In other words, ensuring that legislative and regulatory frameworks are conducive to efficiency and to growth in the telco sector will create economy-wide benefits, including badly needed growth. Unduly burdensome or inefficient regulation and policies will have the opposite effect.”
There are several areas of focus that Mr Stanton hopes this will be applied.
“This translates into many areas of government activity, such as fostering regulation that assists the roll-out of networks such as 5G, maintaining a consultative and proportionate approach to new national security legislation, or simply making use of co-regulatory tools rather than direct regulation, to create more effective outcomes,” he said.
The Deloitte research also found that the telco sector has the second highest investment rate compared to 93 other industries in the economy, and contributes directly to the development and roll-out of other innovative technologies, such as Internet of Things and submarine communication cables.
The report was launched by communications minister Paul Fletcher on Thursday afternoon.
“Telecommunications is a key input to every industry – helping businesses operate more efficiently, connecting them to new national and international markets, and aiding communication with customers and suppliers,” Mr Fletcher said.
“I look forward to continued innovation from the sector as it paves the way for the adoption of new technologies such as 5G networks and the Internet of Things.”