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Chronological History of the Australian Communications Industry

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Information on telegraph technology is brought to Australia by a Canadian, Samuel McGowan, who had studied under Morse. Using local timber for poles, imported galvanised wire and insulators which are improvised locally, he constructs Australia's first telegraph line, from Melbourne to Williamstown and, employing equipment similar to that used in North America, carries out successful experiments and demonstrations.
Following the establishment of constitutions in NSW, Victorias and South Australia, these colonies agree to collaborate in establishment of the intercolonial telegraph network.
Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney are joined by telegraph.
A submarine cable is laid from Victoria to Tasmania, but the link fails.
Brisbane is connected to Sydney, and Queensland begins to push its lines rapidly northward.
A second cable submarine cable operates successfully between Victoria and Tasmania.
Australia’s only link with the outside world is via ships bringing people and mail. In the late 1860's, with its growing importance as a colony and trading nation, the Governments of Queensland and Southern Australia appealed to John Pender to extend his cable system which already reached as far as India. In 1870, Pender formed the British Australian Telegraph Company with a capital of £660,000 to lay a cable from Singapore to Australia. The cable landed at Port Darwin in the Northern Territory.
Sir Charles Todd, a leading electrical engineer, leads the construction of a telegraph line from the colony of South Australia through the centre of Australia to Darwin in order to connect with a submarine cable from Java. The Java cable connects with the now extensive telegraph systems of Europe, and Australia is now in contact with England and the rest of the world. On 23 November, a grand celebratory banquet is held in Sydney to mark the successful opening of telegraphic communication with Europe. The Governor of New South Wales, Sir Hercules Robinson, says in a speech at the banquet: ‘The Earth has been girdled, as it were, with a magic chain...’ The Overland Telegraph Line consisted of a single strand of iron wire, suspended on porcelain insulators on top of a series of roughly-hewn wooden posts. On the Overland Telegraph Line, the electricity is supplied by banks of large batteries enclosed in glass containers, each over 25 cm high and 10 cm in diameter. About eighty of these batteries are needed at each repeater station to provide the necessary voltage for sending telegraph messages on to the next station. They contain zinc and lead electrodes and solutions of copper sulphate and magnesium sulphate, and each produce about 1.5 volts of electricity.
John Pender amalgamates three telegraph companies, the British Indian Extension, The China Submarine and the British Australian, to form the Eastern Extension Australasia and China Telegraph Company (E.E.A. & C.). It was this company, combined with the Eastern, that formed the core of the telegraph empire established by John Pender.
The first major project undertaken by Pender is the laying of a cable from Australia to New Zealand. Many local cable links follow, vastly improving the telegraph communications of the South East Asia area. The company remains in existence until 1974 when a joint company called Eastern Telecommunications Philippine Inc. was formed by Cable & Wireless and Philippine interests. This took over the assets of the E.E.A.& C.
Perth is connected with the other colonies via telegraph.

Henry Sutton (1856-1912) of Ballarat invents numerous telephones.
Experiments with early local and imported telephone instruments were carried out in the various Australian colonies over telegraph lines.

There is some disagreement over which telephone line was first: On 2 January, McLean Bros & Rigg in Elizabeth St in Melbourne establish Australia's first telephone service to connect with their Spencer St Depot.
Another telephone service claimed to be the first in Australia is installed by Robison Brothers (often incorrectly reported as "Robinson Brothers - see here for empirical evidence, also here and here), connecting their Flinders Street Office to their South Melbourne works.
In August, the first telephone exchange is installed in Melbourne. Henry Byron Moore established the Melbourne Telephone Exchange Company, giving Melbourne an exchange two years before London.
The first telephone exchange is installed in New South Wales. Around this time, it is considered good practice to limit exchanges to five positions and, because calling rates are high, a maximum of 100 lines are connected to a position.

14 May: The Victorian Government warns the Melbourne Telephone Exchange to lower prices or consider selling to the government.
The Victorian Government warns the Melbourne Telephone Exchange Company that it will open a rival, government-owned exchange.
The Melbourne Telephone Exchange Company is purchased by the Victorian Colonial Government for
£40,000. Some suggest the reason for the purchase was pressure from the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce 'whose members were not ideological champions of private enterprise' while others (see Davison 1978:26) suggest it was due to the number of complaints about the inefficiency of the service. See the original article in the Melbourne Argus for details.

The first facilities for calls beyond exchanges in the same local area become available, with trunk lines provided between Adelaide and Semaphore in South Australia, and Hobart and New Norfolk in Tasmania.
A second wire is added to the Overland Telegraph Line, this time of copper.
Sydney Daily Telegraph laments the advancement of humanity, citing telecommunications technology as a major factor.
The Constitution gives the Commonwealth Parliament power to make laws for telecommunications and the Commonwealth Government assumes responsibility for telecommunications in Australia. Operational and regulatory functions for all telecommunications services reside with the Postmaster General's Department (PMG). Colonial networks are now the responsibility of federal Postmaster-General (PMG) under Constitution's provisions regarding ‘telegraphic, telephonic and other like services’.
There are 22,310 telephone services in operation in Australia with 79 per cent of these in capital city networks.
Telephone services are available in a scattering of country towns, as policy under the colonial governments had been to open an exchange if more than a specified number of applications were received, usually around fifteen.
A report by a Committee chaired by Sir Charles Todd, Postmaster General, Superintendent of Telegraphs and Government Astronomer of South Australia gives a detailed description of the Australian telecommunications scene, against current world technology, and recommends a program of work to put the system in good order at a total cost estimated at £462,485. This report is referred to as the Todd Report.
Cottesloe (WA) is connected with Cocos Island, via the 1901 ‘slow cable’ (Cosclo 1). Perth becomes Australia's western gateway for cable traffic to Singapore and to London via Africa.
The Commonwealth Government reduces charges for telephone and telegraph services, with the result that funds are insufficient to implement Todd’s upgrading plan, and delays in provision of service to new applicants became excessive.
A cheap extension of the network is achieved by pairing telegraph wires and using a condenser telephone, or 'Phonophore' as it is known, to derive a voice circuit.
Wheatstone equipment for high speed telegraph traffic on the main inter-capital routes is introduced on the Adelaide-Perth route, giving a capacity of 220 words per minute on a single copper wire.
Sydney and Melbourne are connected by a trunk line.
Royal Commission on postal services, including unsatisfactory exchange services, commences on 22 June.

Member for Maranoa, Mr James Page, reports on the lack of telegraph improvements in his electorate since Federation:

With reference to your recent verbal inquiry as to how many new telegraph line extensions, apart from those along railways, have been provided in Queensland since the transfer of this Department to the Commonwealth... As every one is aware, Queensland has developed enormously during the past ten years... Yet every day I receive complaints of the telegraph system, and requests to try to get something done to improve the communication with Brisbane... Yet nothing has been done to cope with the increase of business, though all that would be necessary in cases like those, the poles being already in position, would be to fix more insulators, and put up new wires. Notwithstanding the public complaints, and my efforts, I cannot get the Department to move, and so desperate are my constituents becoming that some of them talk of voting against me because nothing is done for them. I ask the Postmaster-General to give us fair treatment.
The Royal Commission on postal services finalises its report on 5 October and indicates that ‘that much was in need of quite urgent attention.’ The Commissioners express the opinion that 'to obtain an efficient telephone service, the installation of metallic circuits is essential in large networks, as such circuits minimise induction and consequent confusion in the transmission of conversation', and recommend that funds be provided to allow the underground system to be completed in all large cities. The Commissioners also examine the technical officers of the PMG and the representative of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers concerning the advisability of the Department manufacturing its own telephones but, having regard to both costs and the relatively small Australian market, the Commissioners found the proposal uneconomical at that time. They recommend, however, that the matter be kept under review and if financial prospects of Australian manufacturers of telephones improved, consideration could be given to a government factory to produce also cables, wire, switchboards and insulators. They note, too, that such a factory would provide an excellent training school for technical staff.
Tenders are called for wireless stations at Sydney and Fremantle for communication with ships at sea and contracts are awarded to a consortium of local business men and Telefunken of Germany, who supply the technology.
Amalgamated Wireless Australia (AWA) is formed, merging the Australian interests of Marconi, Telefunken and local business.
The first automatic exchange in Australia is opened on 6 July, at Geelong, using equipment supplied by AEC, Chicago.
Hesketh, the PMG’s Chief Electrical Engineer, travels abroad to review progress being made and to assess the merits of various automatic equipment designs. The outcome of this review, together with the performance of the Geelong exchange, results in the 1912/13 Annual Report of the Department announcing that automatic equipment will be used for new exchanges in capital city networks.
The Marconi School of Wireless is established by AWA.
Melbourne and Adelaide are connected by trunk line.
Nineteen coastal wireless telegraphy stations have been established, largely using Australian manufactured equipment.
In Australia, access codes for all manual exchanges except Liverpool are introduced.
The first forerunner of the CSIRO, the Advisory Council of Science and Industry, is formed.
Metal Manufacturers begins producing copper wire at Port Kembla.
The first direct wireless message from England to Australia is received at AWA's Wahroonga, Sydney, station.
Some Sydney workshops manufacture exchanges for Wagga and Wollongong, but generally trunk equipment is imported.
Australia’s telephone network stabilises to the form it will remain until 1938.
The first live radio program in Australia is broadcast in Melbourne.
Australia becomes a signatory to the Constitution and Convention of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on 22 December in Geneva.
Murray multiplex equipment, a machine system which enables the one line to be used for eight transmissions, four in each direction, at a speed of fifty words for each transmission, is introduced.
AWA (in which the Government now has a direct interest) and the Government, enter into an agreement for AWA to establish high-powered radio stations to provide a 24-hour international radio telegraph service.
Sydney and Brisbane are connected by trunk line.
Metal Manufacturers begins delivering lead covered, paper insulated cable to the PMG.
PMG establishes its own Research Laboratories under Mr. S. H. Witt. The charter was to study the latest discoveries, inventions and developments in electrical communications and to advise the Chief Engineer on those which were promising and likely to benefit the Department's telephone and telegraph services. Notwithstanding the growing diversity of services and increasing complexity in telecommunications techniques and technologies, the charter has remained essentially unchanged to this time.
In July, the first radio broadcasting service in Australia begins in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, using equipment designed and manufactured by AWA, providing a completely new communication service. Both transmitters and receivers are licenced by the Government and initially receivers are made capable of receiving on one frequency only.
Australia has a mechanically well constructed network of poles and wires, lightly transposed to control crosstalk at voice frequencies, from Townsville down the east coast and across to Adelaide.
The radio broadcasting service has grown quickly and there are some 64,000 licenced receivers.
Limited technology and high costs hamper the growth of rural telephones and, apart from relatively short lengths of line near the exchange, subscribers have to provide or pay for the remainder, and usually erect the lines themselves -'part privately erected' or PPE lines. Various cost cutting measures are permitted on these lines, including the use of iron wires, earth return circuits and low ground clearances, providing multi-party lines with code ringing and no privacy. The subscribers' costs are least in a system of numerous small exchanges, which reduce the length of PPE line required, but overall costs are least in a network with a smaller number of exchanges. In general the compromise went in the direction of additional exchanges but, in order to obtain 24 hour a day service, some PPE lines are built past small exchanges to larger ones. The end result of all these factors is a disorderly network of privately constructed lines which, however, for several decades provide at least a basic service. The idea of a small automatic exchange is attractive and the first Australian RAX, locally designed and installed, is at Barep, Victoria.
The PMG’s Department, guided by its newly formed Research Laboratories, provides a four-State land-line relay for radio broadcasting, using circuits derived over the trunk line network. Relaying soon becomes a normal part of the broadcasting service and is used extensively by both commercial stations and the national service, which is formed from the eight 'A' class stations, to which four regional stations are added.
The first 3 channel system in Australia, using equipment supplied by AT&T, is installed between Sydney and Melbourne and operates in the frequency band to 30 KHz providing 3 KHz channels.
A second cable (Cosclo 2) which provides considerably faster transmission because of its loaded construction, connects Cottesloe with Cocos Island.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is formed and begins conducting scientific research in Australia's primary and secondary industries.
AWA begins manufacturing receivers as well as transmitters. Standard Telephones and Cables (STC, a subsidiary of AT&T, later of ITT, USA), begins manufacturing.
The Radio Research Board (RRB) is established in June and the initial function of the Board is to improve general radio practices in Australia. Representation is drawn from the University of Sydney, the P.M.G. Department, the Defence Department, the University of Melbourne and CSIR. Early studies, under the aegis of the RRB, of the transmission of radio waves along the ground and in the upper atmosphere provide a sound basis for the initial planning of the Australian Broadcasting Service.
The growth in the broadcasting service provides a much larger market base than that available from the telegraph and telephone services, stimulating Australian manufacturing activities in the total communications market and STC begins to manufacture magneto telephones.
Australian contribution to research is stimulated when a Royal Commission on wireless with wide terms of reference, includes in its recommendation ‘that a special appropriation, sufficiently large to enable the present problems in radio to be thoroughly investigated should be made available to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research'.
Vacuum tube technology impacts in a positive way in the telegraph service and the first Voice Frequency Telegraph System is installed.
STC produces the first superheterodyne equipment in Australia and produces a magneto switchboard.
Measurement facilities and reference standards for time interval and frequency, with accuracy traceable to national and international standards, are established.
The Sydney-Maitland route is transposed, after investigation by AT&T engineers, to enable eight 3 channel systems to be installed.
Radio broadcasting received licences reach 300,000, and 20 stations are broadcasting, including eight which are categorised as 'A' class and supported by revenue from licence fees, and twelve are 'B' class, or commercial stations.
The 'beam wireless' telegraph service begins operation.
Australia's first picturegram service opens between Sydney and Melbourne.
A handful of standard RAXs from English companies have been installed, apparently as field trials, allowing an understanding of both the capabilities and limitations of such exchanges.
The 'beam wireless' technology shrinks the world still further when a radio telephone service to England is brought into service, at a price for a three-minute call of £6.
Sydney and Perth are connected by trunk line.
The first international telephone call is made by Prime Minister James Henry Scullin to Mr Ramsay MacDonald, the English Prime Minister, and the Rt Hon W.M. Hughes spoke with the Rt Hon David Lloyd George, by wireless telephone between Sydney and London.
Physical science activities commence at the PMG Laboratories to investigate a wide range of problems.
The PMG Laboratories staff has grown from 1 in 1923 to 35.
The exchange in Cairns is converted to automatic.
On 1 July, Prime Minister Joseph Lyons inaugurates the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC). The ABC controls twelve stations - 2FC and 2BL in Sydney, 3AR and 3LO in Melbourne, 4QG in Brisbane, 5CL in Adelaide, 6WF in Perth, 7ZL in Hobart and the relay stations 2NC in Newcastle, 2CO at Corowa, 4RK in Rockhampton and 5CK at Crystal Brook.
The Depression results in an increase in tariffs, giving an added incentive to local manufacture. AWA begins local component production, followed by Philips Electrical Industries (a subsidiary of N. V. Philips of Holland).
The ABC has regular program relays between Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide and Perth.
A new initiative by the ABC sees programs being broadcast to listeners in outback areas on a short wave service.
The first car radio is fitted to a car made by Kelly's Motors in NSW.
The world's second coaxial submarine cable is installed between Victoria and Tasmania, via King Island, and connects Tasmania with the mainland network.
The ABC’s schools broadcasts begin and radio lessons are broadcast in all mainland States.
In March, the Bass Strait telephone cable is in operation and ABC commences broadcasting in Hobart. This cable is the longest of its type in the world.
A newer and much cheaper kind of relay – the reed relay - is developed.
The exchange in Canberra is converted to automatic.
The exchanges in Rockhampton and Tamworth are converted to automatic.
The PMG Laboratories issue 213 Research Laboratory Reports on subjects ranging from cable corrosion at Sale, Victoria, to tests on ultra-high frequency navigational beacons.
Sir Harry Brown, Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs (PMG), resigns from his position ‘following a disagreement with the Menzies government (1939-41) over plans to pass some of the department’s broadcasting powers to Ernest Fisk’s Amalgamated Wireless, Australasia (AWA), which was engaged in a joint venture with the Commonwealth to provide wireless communications (Eason 2001, 58-76).
An international broadcasting service is inaugurated by the ABC from the same transmitters used to broadcast to listeners in outback areas on a short wave service in 1934. The Short-wave radio service Australia Calling (later renamed Radio Australia) begins broadcasts from Sydney in English, Spanish, French and Dutch.
STC extends its activities and is producing repeater valves used in long distance telephone systems and high-powered valves for broadcasting transmitters, involving a technology transfer of quite a high order.
A quite sophisticated trunk network is developed, which in 1937/38 handles a total of some 40 million trunk calls and now comprises a total of 5,540 circuits.
There are 487,000 subscribers connected to the network, and much attention is being given to the cable and open wire systems connecting these subscribers to their local exchanges. Lead sheathed, paper insulated, copper pair cables are the standard, but with open wire construction still used in reticulation to many suburban homes.
The exchange in Wagga is converted to automatic.
The Australian national radio broadcasting service involves 26 stations and the number of commercial stations has grown to 100, with a total of 1,212,000 licenced receivers.
The Research Laboratories, the PMG Workshops, STC and various subcontractors, are all utilised to produce a series of four, six and nine channel VF telegraph systems and the first comes into service. Mobile systems are also produced for the Services.
Australia and New Zealand put forward a national communications scheme which would remove control of communications operations from Cable & Wireless.
On the transmission side, 3 channel carrier equipment is produced.
The APO Research Laboratories commence conducting radio telephony investigations, extended to VHF and UHF.
The Empire Telecommunications Conference is held in London, and agreement is reached for the amalgamation of British Commonwealth cable and radio services and for their transfer to public ownership.
At the Canberra Conference, proposals are made for Commonwealth countries to operate communications independently, with central Commonwealth control. In the same year at the Imperial Communications Conference, the Canberra proposals were unsuccessfully opposed by Cable & Wireless, and in 1947 the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia) was formed to take over from Cable & Wireless. From the 1960's to the 1980's, Cable & Wireless' involvement with Australia focused on major international coaxial cable projects such as COMPAC, SEACOM and ANZCAN. In the 1990's, the formation of Optus established a second telecommunications network and by 1994 its network comprised of over 5,000 kms of fibre optic cable.
The Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia) (OTC) is established with responsibility for all international telecommunications services by Act of Parliament on August 7. Its responsibility is the maintenance and operation of Australia's overseas telecommunications services as well as communications with ships. At that time the acquisition begins of the communications assets of AWA, which had previously operated the overseas wireless services, and of Cable and Wireless overseas telegraph facilities, with C&W retaining ownership of the cables themselves, while the cable stations in Australia and Norfolk Island come under the ownership of OTC.
Australia manufactures 600 Type relays.
Manufacturing automatic switching equipment commences.
A Parliamentary Standing Committee concludes that decisions in connection with the introduction of FM broadcasting should be deferred pending the outcome of practical tests in capital cities by the PMG Department.
A team at CSIR build CSIRAC, the world's fifth computer, and the first to play 'computer music'.
Production of cable carrier equipment in Australia commences for 12 channel systems.
The CSIR is renamed the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Melbourne is selected as the host city for the Games of the XVI Olympiad, and it becomes necessary to accelerate a series of projects which would otherwise have been spread over a number of years, to achieve capacity for an estimated threefold increase in the volume of international traffic to be generated by the Games. This increase is achieved by:
  • installation of new telegraph transmitters, using Frequency Shift Keying (FSK) and Independent Sideband (ISB) Transmission
  • upgrading of existing telegraph transmitters to FSK and ISB working
  • use of Time Division Multiplex (TDM) with Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ) on radio derived circuits to provide automatic error correction for teleprinter channels
  • use of submarine telegraph cable derived circuits for teleprinter operation
  • conversion of radiotelephone transmitters on independent sideband (ISB) operation for voice and phototelegram
  • use of transmitters owned by the Royal Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy
In June, six months before the Labour government loses office, Prime Minister Chifley pledges his Government to introducing television as soon as possible. The new Menzies Government allows the ABC to plan experimentally for one television station, in Sydney. Under a Bill introduced by the Government, the Postmaster General is also given the power to grant licences for commercial television stations.
The Flying Doctor's radio service is adapted to operate the School of the Air.
Computers begin to be applied to the processing of administrative data.
Production of 12 channel equipment commences in Australia.
A Television Act is passed, providing for a national network of television channels and the issuing of licences to commercial television stations. The ABC is appointed the national television authority on the recommendation of a Royal Commission set up to implement the 1953 Act. The Commission's recommendation, that Sydney and Melbourne, as the first two cities to receive television should have two commercial licences as well, is also adopted.
Telex is introduced on a manually switched basis in Australia when the PMG establishes a fully automated teleprinter exchange service.
Full manufacturing of automatic switching equipment is achieved in Australia.
When the sovereignty of Cocos-Keeling Islands is transferred from the United Kingdom to Australia in November, the C&W cable station is sold to OTC.
The APO Laboratories engage in investigations relating to the ultimate introduction of the National TV Broadcasting service, recommending the adoption of a 625 line system standard. Studies are made of coaxial cable systems and associated transmission measurement techniques, to assist in the planning and commissioning of the Sydney-Melbourne and other major coaxial cable systems of the nineteen sixties.
Television comes to Australia, somewhat later than in other technically advanced countries but then expands rapidly. The first television broadcast in Australia is by the commercial station TCN-9, in September. Just over a month later, on 5 November in Sydney, the Prime Minister, R G Menzies, inaugurates the ABC's first television broadcast. The first broadcast from Melbourne's television studios takes place two weeks later, on 19 November, just in time for ABC-TV's coverage of the 1956 Olympic Games.
Foreshadowing quite revolutionary changes in international communications, in October, HF signals from the USSR’s Sputnik, the world's first man-made satellite, are picked up by OTC engineers and excite considerable interest.
Australia manufactures SE50 switches.
The APO establishes a special planning group, the Automatic Network and Switching Objectives (ANSO) Committee, led by R. W. Turnbull, utilising expertise and experience from Head Office and the States.
A submerged repeater is installed in the Cottesloe (West Australia) to Cocos Island cable, the 1901 ‘slow cable’ (Cosclo 1) greatly increases the speed of transmission on Cosclo 1.
One million licensed television receivers give a stimulus to the Australian manufacturing industry.
Planning for CANTAT (UK-Canada) and COMPAC (Pacific) cable systems which began with conferences in London in 1958 is finalised in Sydney. It is agreed that the capital cost of COMPAC, estimated at that time to be £33 million, would be shared by OTC (Australia), Canadian Overseas Telecommunications Corporation (later Teleglobe), Cable and Wireless Ltd and the New Zealand Post Office. The cable, which before the later installation of circuit multiplication equipment (CME), has a capacity of 80 3KHz, 4 wire duplex voice channels and comprises 8284 nm of cable and 322 valve repeaters and 34 equalisers, is based upon designs developed for CANTAT by the British Post Office, but the overall installation crosses a number of new frontiers, as two sections of the cable (Vancouver/Hawaii and Hawaii/Fiji) are longer than any submarine telephone cable laid or planned at this time, and this has important implications for terminal equipment and repeater design and additionally, no electrical performance criteria exists for a system of this length. Manufacture of the cable and repeaters is undertaken by two British firms, Submarine Cable Ltd (SCL) and Standard Telephones and Cables Ltd (STC), but Australian content is provided by the 130 volt rectifiers for the no-break power supplies for the Sydney, New Zealand and Fiji terminals which are designed and built in Sydney by STC.
The PMG Laboratories design and manufacture a single channel carrier system for the earth circuit iron wire trunk line between Normanton and Burketown, which uses transistorised equipment.
The RRB is supporting work in six of Australia's nine universities, with the Board's funds derived from CSIRO, APO, OTC and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board (ABCB). In a departure from past practice the RRB begins allocating a portion of its funds to foster projects in Solid State Physics, the first step in a series of changes in its area of interest, reflecting the very rapid scientific and technological developments in radio science, electronics, telecommunications and digital computer developments.
The introduction of telex is eroding telegraph business. As one means of improving the standard of service while containing costs of the public telegram service, a Teleprinter Reperforator Switching System, 'Tress', is developed.
The first broadband telecommunications link in Australia is opened for traffic. It is a microwave radio link between Melbourne and Bendigo in Victoria, and it represents the beginning of a quiet revolution in Australian telecommunications, leading to the replacement of over-burdened aerial wire and pole routes with much greater capacity microwave or coaxial cable links. Microwave and coaxial cable systems are called broadband links because they carry a very large volume of communications using a much broader range (or band) of frequencies compared to earlier systems. A single broadband bearer can carry hundreds or even thousands of telephone calls simultaneously by using a principle called frequency-division multiplexing.
Australia develops centralised network performance and analysis centres, commencing with experimental work in Adelaide on the analysis and plotting of subscribers' complaints, under a system which became known as CARGO (Complaints Analysis, Recording and Graphing Organisation). The new approach is to bring together in one centre the complaints for an area and to identify fault patterns through accumulating the effects of individual faults and studying the likely path of affected calls through the network.
After three years of work ANSO produces the Community Telephone Plan for Australia I960, perhaps the most comprehensive plan produced, at this time, by any telephone administration. From a technology viewpoint, important features include:
  • ultimate nation-wide subscriber dialling;
  • national closed numbering with a maximum of nine digits;
  • grouping of exchanges for call charging;
  • extended local service areas;
  • automatic multi-metering on trunk calls;
  • register controlled, high speed switching system, using automatic alternative routing; maximum of nine links in tandem.
The APO commences a major programme of broadband coaxial cable and microwave systems.
The Annual Report of the APO discloses that, of the 539,718 country telephone services, 63 per cent are still manual, mostly magneto, while the automatic exchanges which account for 37 per cent of the services are unevenly spread, tending to be located where either growth has been relatively high, or where costs of conversion have not been adversely affected by the need to invest heavily to upgrade line plant.
As a direct contribution to improving long distance communications, the APO Laboratories design and construct transistorised 12 channel repeaters suitable for pole mounting in open wire systems for use between Alice Springs and Darwin.
Commonwealth Cables Management Committee formed to manage submarine cables.
Manufacturing of crossbar equipment commences.
The Huxley Committee proposes, and the Government accepts, that the frequencies used internationally for FM broadcasting, 88-108 MHz should be reserved to provide for three additional TV channels.
With the COMPAC cable bringing reliable, high quality communications to Australia from Europe and North America, there is a requirement to provide similar communications from Australia to South East Asia and to enable circuits in COMPAC to be extended to this region. To achieve this, a Commonwealth Cable Conference is held in Kuala Lumpur to plan such an installation – SEACOM.
STC produced a locally designed crossbar PABX.
Production of a locally developed transistorised 12 channel system commences.
Australia is amongst the first group of countries which begin to address the problems of international communications using satellites and in August, along with ten other signatories, becomes a founding member of the Interim Communications Satellite Committee (ICSC) which functions as the initial policy decision making body of INTELSAT. As a member of ICSC, OTC develops proposals relating to public telecommunications standards for satellites resulting in the following general concepts being adopted:
  • ICSC should formally adopt CCITT standards and publicise the fact that it was offering service to those standards
  • to achieve the former standards, ICSC should specify a 'standard' satellite earth station at or near the top of known technological performance capability, in order to maximise the amount of derived satellite capacity
  • the basis for the standard unit of space segment charge should be related to the satellite capacity required to provide a CCITT standard telephone circuit between two standard earth stations as defined above
Tests on data transmission at speeds of up to 2400 bit/sec over the switched analogue telephone network begin as the first step in investigations which will assist in the introduction of the Datel service and more advanced services later on.
The first full-time long distance relay facility is provided from Sydney to Canberra.
In April, the first major installation of coaxial cable in Australia is opened for traffic, when the first broadband link joining Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne is constructed. The cable laid between these centres contains six coaxial tubes and 32 pairs of other wires, and has a potential capacity of thousands of simultaneous telephone calls, in addition to being able to relay television programs. A coaxial tube consists of an outer conductor which is a hollow metal tube, usually copper, about a centimetre in diameter, with an inner conductor, usually a solid wire a few millimetres in diameter, running along inside it. The inner wire is kept centred in the outer tube by means of polythene discs spaced at regular intervals throughout the tube. Apart from the polythene discs, the inner conductor is kept insulated from the outer tube simply by air. Such tubes are called coaxial because the two conductors share the same centre, or axis.
A Sydney-Melbourne bearer is provided over the recently completed coaxial cable. Microwave radio systems are, however, to be the main method of TV relaying and a network is rapidly established to meet the combination of TV relaying and rapidly expanding telecommunications needs influenced by the move to STD.
COMPAC is commissioned and the large increase in telephone channels results in the need for advanced methods of switching. Australia's first automatic international telephone exchange enters service on 3 December, in conjunction with the commissioning of the cable.
Laying of the SEACOM cable begins.
Data is first sent along the phone lines between the stock exchanges and some business houses in Australia.
CITEC, a national information and communications technology (ICT) service provider with offices in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, is founded. CITEC becomes Queensland's largest ICT provider and claims to be one of the largest Australian-owned information systems outsourcers.
NASA proposes that in support of the Apollo programme an earth station should be established at Carnarvon, Western Australia by October of the following year, to provide tracking, telemetering and command services for the launch of the satellites, together with direct communication links between the earth station and the USA.
The earth station is supplied by NASA on schedule, but the first satellite fails to reach synchronous orbit, remaining in a 12-hour elliptical one. Nevertheless, it is used on 25 November for the first exchange of television signals between Australia and the UK.
Telex is converted to automatic, using a telex version of L. M. Ericsson crossbar equipment and using CCITT type B trunk signalling. An Australia wide five digit stored numbering scheme is adopted with multi-metering for call charging.
First television programs from the UK are transmitted to Australia via satellite.
The SEACOM cable is completed, with the Australian terminal at Cairns, North Queensland. The Singapore-Kota Kinabalu-Hong Kong-Guam sections have the same capacity as COMPAC, but this is doubled to 160 3kHz channels for the Guam-Madang-Cairns sections. At Guam a land interconnection is arranged with the Hawaii-Japan cable system. The APO is responsible for linking the Cairns terminal to Sydney by microwave and this requires special attention to design in order to obtain low noise performance needed to match the standards imposed by CCITT for international systems.
Following the successful launch of a replacement satellite, regular satellite communications began from Australia in February.
The RRB supports the first of a series of special subject symposia, while a little later in the period there is a change to project grants, instead of institutional grants.
The first ARMs become available, and some 19 per cent of all trunk calls are being directly dialled by subscribers.
The US Department of Defense issues the request for quotation to build ARPANET.
Specifications are prepared and tenders called for a full performance standard earth station at Moree, New South Wales, and regular public satellite service commences across the Pacific to USA and Japan on 29 March.
The link to UK, Europe, Africa, Middle East and part of Asia, is provided through an earth station completed at Ceduna, SA, in December and a second antenna is also added to Carnarvon in October, which permits the original antenna to be used to provide tracking, telemetry, command and monitoring services under contract with INTELSAT.
Facilities for the transmission of data, the Datel service, are introduced in Australia by the Australian Post Office (APO), with options of using the switched telephone service for lower speeds, or leased lines for higher speeds. Modems supplied by the APO are an essential part of the service. Datel allows information to be sent along the ordinary switched network or along dedicated leased phone lines. A modem is required at each end of the line to convert digital signals to analogue signals and vice-versa. Using the Datel service, data can be transmitted at up to 9,600 bit/s (bits per second) over the normal switched network and up to 160,000 bit/s over privately leased, special high-speed data channels. The Datel service allows people to use a number of message services including the Discovery, Keylink and Teletext services. Telecom Australia's DatelTM service is used by a number of organisations including government departments and industry. Travel agents, for example, are frequent users of the Datel service.
In order to increase signal strength and thus provide for improved reception in the Asian region, a high powered booster station is constructed on Cox Peninsula, Darwin, using log periodic aerials and computer controller transmitters to provide a very advanced system.
The APO, to provide for the increasing demand for data communications by a number of large customers, such as airlines and weather services, lets a contract with the UNIVAC division of Sperry Rand Australia Ltd for the provision of a Common User Data Network (CUDN), with installations in all mainland State capital cities. CUDN is a store and forward message switching system, designed to transfer data quickly and reliably from one location to one or more specified distant locations, using magnetic disc packs for storage and with computers performing the routing functions. The system is designed to enable several customers to use the service concurrently. CUDN is an ambitious application of the current technology and commissioning runs well behind schedule. In this period other developments render CUDN unattractive to many of the customers it has been designed to serve and it is withdrawn from public service at any early date.
The first bulk supplies of ARF minor centre equipment with REG-ELP/H4 and full STD facilities are delivered.
Commercial Picturephone services debut in downtown Pittsburgh and AT&T executives confidently predict that a million Picturephone sets will be in use by 1980. Although the Picturephone is not a commercial success, two decades later, with improvements in speed, resolution, and miniaturisation, the Picturephone technology will be incorporated into the desktop computer, enabling personal video communication systems.
Channelling, multiplexing and line transmission equipment are all developed and manufactured in Australia.
During the 1970s, there is mounting pressure for changes to the industry structure and regulatory frameworks. Technological advances and the emergence of a more service-based economy fuelled a rapidly increasing demand for high-speed electronic information transfers. Companies relying heavily on telecommunications services wanted the benefits of competition in the supply of those services, and rural interests want better communication services to regional and remote areas.
Studies of liquid filled optical fibres, invented by CSIRO, begin and the work is later extended to multi mode and single mode solid glass fibres.
The Laboratories develop a prototype Video-conferencing system.
The ABCB proposes that Australia should introduce FM using the UHF band.
The Laboratories’ video-conferencing system undergoes successful trials via satellite link between Sydney and London and is later installed between Melbourne and Sydney. This is the world’s first international video conference link.
The first Stored Programme Control (SPC) exchange is in service in Sydney.
Production of 12 mHz coaxial line equipment commences. By this stage, the APO has evolved a substantial ability in system and network design, system specification, tender evaluation and prototype testing, integration of new designs into the established network, as well as expertise in system operation and maintenance.
The RRB allocates funds to work in non-university institutions, namely the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and the Footscray Institute of Technology.
Cyclone Tracey demolishes the aerials of the high powered booster station on Cox Peninsula, Darwin.
The McLean Report results in a decision that FM should operate in Australia in the VHF band as elsewhere in the world.
Satellite earth stations now provide an important new dimension in Australia's overseas telecommunications services more than half of Australia's overseas telecommunications circuits are carried via satellite. In the early series of satellites operated by INTELSAT, the emphasis tends towards the most advanced available technology with lesser attention to actual traffic requirements. OTC plays a role in the development of a planning approach and G. Gosewinckel becomes the founding Chairman of a planning sub-committee which is established to consider longer term issues.
The Post-Master Generals department is disaggregated, forming the Australian Postal Commission and the Australian Telecommunications Commission.
In June, experimental ethnic radio stations 2EA (Sydney) and 3EA (Melbourne) commence.
On 1 July, the Australian Telecommunications Commission, trading as Telecom Australia, becomes the monopoly telecommunications carrier of domestic services within Australia with exclusive rights to install, maintain and operate the network and supply basic services. As well as being the network provider, Telecom is also the technical regulator in customer equipment, private networks and value-added services.
STC produces a locally designed electronic PABX range.
Public FM radio and colour television broadcasts begin in Australia.
International Subscriber Dialling (ISD), becomes an obvious requirement for Australia. It commences to 14 major destinations on 1 April and is extended progressively to other destinations, co-ordinated with the availability of ISD access facilities within the Australian national network. Initially, charging is on a multi-metering basis but Telecom introduced an accelerated program for itemised charging facilities. Reflecting the growing importance of marketing, a national advertising campaign is implemented, resulting in a marked increase in awareness of the new service.
In March, the Consultative Committee on Ethnic Broadcasting is established by the Government to consider the future of ethnic broadcasting. In September, the ABC is requested to establish a permanent ethnic broadcasting service.
In January, the National Ethnic Broadcasting Advisory Council (NEBAC) is established. In June, the Government offers to the ABC to establish an ethnic broadcasting service withdrawn. In November, State Ethnic Broadcasting Advisory Councils (SEBACs) are established in NSW and Victoria.
The Governor General proclaims amendments to the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942, setting up the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).
ARE-11 exchanges are first installed in Australia. This consists of updating crossbar exchanges with the addition of electronic equipment. The registers, and some of the markers, are replaced by electronic components on printed circuit boards. A small central computer, dividing its time between them, controls their operations. ARF crossbar exchanges which have been modified in this way are called ARE-11 exchanges.
In January, the SBS establishes and assumes responsibility for 2EA and 3EA. BS Board members are appointed for three years and Dr Grisha A. Sklovsky is appointed Chairman.
In February, 2EA broadcasts 126 hours weekly in 36 languages and 3EA broadcasts 103 hours weekly in 32 languages.
In May, Ron E. Fowell is appointed as the SBS Executive Director. In June, the SBS asks SEBACs to reschedule 2EA and 3EA.
In July, the Government decides public broadcasting and 'restricted commercial' stations could be assisted by SBS funding of ethnic programs.
In September, a Joint statement is released by the Minister for Post and Telecommunications and the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs on the establishment of an ethnic television service.
In October, the SBS releases a discussion paper on structural reorganisation of 2EA and 3EA broadcasting groups.
In December, 2EA broadcasts in 41 languages while 3EA broadcasts in 38 languages.
Commercial use of international CCITT No. 6 signalling is inaugurated in July, with circuits between Australia, the United States and Japan.
In February, the SBS releases its policy for the restructuring of 2EA and 3EA.
In March, the Ethnic Television Review Panel (ETRP) is appointed to undertake public consultation program and prepare report on permanent ethnic television service and the SEBAC (Vic) new 3EA schedule commences.
In April, the first SBS produced experimental ethnic television programs are broadcast on ABC Television. Final programs are broadcast on 22 July. In May, 3EA broadcasts in 41 languages.
In July, the ETRP submits first report: The Aims and Philosophy of a Permanent Ethnic Television Service.
Start of SEBAC (NSW) new 2EA schedule.
In August, 2EA Newcastle translator begins on 29 August and 2EA Wollongong translator begins the next day.
In September, 2EA broadcasts in 47 languages.
In November, the first phase of policy for restructuring broadcast groups of 2EA and 3EA is put into operation.
In December, the ETRP submits second report: The Structure of the Interim Multicultural/Multilingual Television Service. 2EA commences broadcasting through 4EB (Brisbane).
The first major telecommunications route in the world to be powered exclusively by solar energy is opened between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.
In January, the Government announces intention to establish and Independent and Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation (IMBC) to provide multicultural television (MTV) and multilingual radio services. The IMBC Implementation Committee is appointed to bridge the period between the disbanding of SBS and establishment of IMBC. An Implementation Task Force is set up with a brief to establish a multicultural television service. A new 3EA (5KW) AM transmitter begins.
In February, the ETRP submits its third report: Programming for the Multicultural/Multilingual Television Service - Objectives and Policies. Weekly telecasts of the second experimental cycle of ethnic television programs begin on ABC Television and continue until 4 May.
In May, legislation to establish the IMBC is introduced into Parliament. The Senate refers the IMBC legislation to Standing Committee on Education and the Arts for inquiry and report by the first sitting day in August 1980.
In June, the Minister appoints a more diverse IMBC Implementation Committee of 13 members.
In July, 2EA transmitter power upgraded to 5kW.
In August, the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts recommends: IMBC legislation not proceed at this stage; Dix Committee to be asked to examine a report on a second television channel; and until the Dix Committee reports, MTV and ethnic radio to be provided on interim basis by SBS.
In October, Multicultural Television begins in Sydney and Melbourne on VHF channel 0 and UHF channel 28.
Radio Relay Systems are established for the remoter areas of Australia, using solar powered repeaters, housed in below ground shelters to ensure small ambient temperature variations without air-conditioning. A similar approach is taken to the engineering of microwave systems, both extending through the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland and in the Kimberley Region of West Australia and on to Darwin. This latter section completes an around Australia broadband network, giving added resilience and diversity to the communication system.
The Fraser Government establishes an additional publicly-owned carrier, AUSSAT, to operate a domestic satellite system. Aussat Pty Ltd is formed to ensure Australia has its own system of domestic communication satellites, with the objective, amongst others, of ensuring nation-wide availability of radio and TV services. Aussat is owned 75 per cent directly by the Government and 25 per cent by Telecom Australia, and is established in due course as the operating authority.
The Centrepoint Tower in Sydney is designed by consulting engineers, Wargon Chapman & Associates Pty Ltd, fabricated by Johns & Waygood and erected by Concrete Constructions (NSW) Pty Ltd. The tower serves as both a communications tower and a tourist facility.
In June, the Fraser Government announces it will not proceed with the IMBC, and it abolishes the IMBC Implementation Committee, dissolves NEBAC and SEBAC, and establishes the SBS Advisory Council chaired by Francis Galbally QC.
In July, the new SBS Board is appointed, chaired by Sir Nicholas Shehadie. In August, an Inter station Program Exchange and Transcription Service (IPETS) is established at Radio 2EA to assist ethnic public broadcasters.
In August, Telecom launches the first public automatic mobile phone system (PAMTS) in Melbourne (Sydney followed in November). Abbreviated to MTS or just 007 (after the telephone number prefix used) this service is fully automatic but not cellular. The boot-mounted radios have a handset and cradle in the cabin and cost $4,990 to buy or $1,000 per annum to lease. Connection fee are $350.00 and annual access fee are $800. The fully automatic mobile telephone service has a capacity for some 4,000 customers, using 120 radio channels in the 500 mHz band, and similar services follow in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and the Gold Coast.
The Australian Computer Research Board (ACRB) is established through funding by CSIRO, Defence Department, Telecom and OTC, with initial funding of $130,000 per annum. The objectives of the ACRB are:
  • to foster research and development in computer engineering and computer science, including the application of this research and development in universities and other appropriate organisations;
  • to assist in improving the training of computer engineers and scientists and to attract into the field the high calibre graduate;
  • to encourage interaction between universities, government, industry and other interested bodies.

The first fully dedicated computer-controlled exchange in Australia is opened at Melbourne's Endeavour Hills. Designed by Ericsson Communications Pty Ltd, it is the first of many AXE exchanges. While the Endeavour Hills exchange has a reed-relay crosspoint switching system, later AXE exchanges have full digital switching in their group selector stages. AXE exchanges have numerous benefits:

  • Because the equipment makes extensive use of printed circuit boards, they are easy to install, repair or replace, and have lower maintenance costs.
  • Exchanges can be much smaller, while at the same time having a much greater capacity.
  • Telephone facilities flourish - including abbreviated dialling, automatic call re-routing, and do-not-disturb.
  • The network becomes easier to manage, and can be used more efficiently.
  • Telephone accounts can provide detailed billing.
Telstra decides that all AXE exchanges after the first should incorporate entirely digital switching methods. This means that no electromechanical switching devices will be used at all, and all calls will be connected and routed electronically by means of logical computer control, without the use of moving parts.
In July, the Government announces an extension of MTV on UHF to 10 city and country centres: 1982-83 (Canberra, Goulburn, Cooma); 1983-84 (Newcastle, Wollongong, Adelaide, Brisbane); and 1984-85 (Hobart, Perth, Darwin). Minister announces increase to $650,000 in subsidies to public broadcasters for ethnic programming.
In December, the Ministers for Communications and for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs release a discussion paper on the extension and development of ethnic radio and announce establishment of Working Party to consider the matter.
During the 1970s, work had been extended to characterising the analogue network for later conversion to digital working, establishing design rules for the expanded use of Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) systems in the junction network and developing digital transmission performance measuring techniques and equipment. This work culminated in the adoption by the International Committee for Telephony and Telegraphy (CCITT) (also referred to as the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector) of a technique embodied in an invention by Dr. A. J. Gibbs, for the characterisation of the crosstalk performance of digital line systems.
Telstra introduces a digital network called the Dedicated Digital Network (DDN), specifically designed to carry data communications. This is added to the existing telecommunications system which is adapted in various ways to carry data, telex and broadcast links. It is marketed as the Digital Data Service (DDS). DDS provides faster connection times and much more secure links for computer communications. It uses digital transmission methods similar to those of PCM systems and conforms to the internationally recognised International Telecommunications Union – Telecommunications (ITU-T) standards. The basic Point-to-Point service offered is similar to that of the leased line Datel service, providing synchronous transmission speeds of 2400, 4800, 9600 and 48,000 bit/s. It also provides major new facilities which benefit users with large networks to computers and terminals.
AUSTPAC, a public switched data service on its own network, is introduced to provide a universal, shared, intelligent network for switched data communications. It is based on a SESA (French) packet switching system DPS-25 and supplied through STC who contributed PCBs (printed circuit boards) and assembled and tested exchanges. As AUSTPAC is to be the basis for a range of new services such as Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), including Point of Sale (POS), videotext services and electronic mail, interfaces to various other public networks, including the telephone and telex networks have to be developed as well as international interfaces to other countries' packet systems. AUSTPAC has 20 exchange nodes in mainland capital cities with some 2000 direct connections, mainly X25 synchronous services, together with many applications using access through the PSTN.
International telephone switching capacity is expanded by the commissioning of an L. M. Ericsson AKE-132 processor controlled gateway exchange at Paddington, generally similar to the AKE-131 at Broadway, but it incorporates a number of new features resulting from advances in switching technology. A new international Transmission Maintenance Centre is also provided.
In February, the SBS Advisory Council is appointed by the Government. In April, the Government institutes an Inquiry into purchasing policies of the SBS, to be chaired by J H Oswin. In May, a Working Party to examine the options for long term development of ethnic radio disbanded and the Hawke Government undertakes to examine submissions and take these into account in implementing future policy in this area. In August, the Minister reaffirms the Government’s decision to extend MTV. The Minister announces transmissions on VHF channel 0 in Sydney and Melbourne to cease 1 January 1985. In October, SBS Television in Canberra begins. In November, the extension of SBS Television to Goulburn and Cooma begins. In December, the Minister announces a Committee of Review to examine the role of the SBS and recommends a blueprint for future development of ethnic broadcasting. The Oswin Inquiry report is tabled.
Telecom and OTC collaborate with KDD Japan in the first intercontinental field trial of the CCITT No. 7 signalling system, the later generation common channel signalling system designed to be the central nervous system of the Integrated Services Digital Network.
Following a review by Dr. J. L. Farrands, a former Secretary to the Department of Science and Technology, an OTC Research and Development Board, consisting mainly of experts external to OTC is formed to make recommendations on and to oversight an external R&D programme. Two main objectives are set:
  • to make OTC a more informed telecommunications authority and, in particular, a more informed purchaser of telecommunications equipment;
  • to place Australian industry in a position where it can participate in design, development, manufacture and installation of telecommunications equipment.
A contract is let with L. M. Ericsson Pty Ltd for two AXB20 telex exchanges, including manual operator switchboards and a number of service enhancements, such as Store and Forward, Abbreviated Dialling and Department Billing. This upgrades the international telex switching facilities and the first of these is now in service.
The high powered booster station on Cox Peninsula, Darwin is rebuilt.
In April, the SBS completes a submission to Committee of Review. In August, the SBS Board establishes an Advisory Committee on Racism. In December, the Report of the Committee of Review Serving Multicultural Australia, The Role of Broadcasting, is presented to Government.
A Siemens EDX-P data gateway is brought into service. This gateway performs the packet assembly/disassembly functions and packet switching functions of the earlier equipment. In addition it is connected by a 48 kbps link to Telecom's AUSTPAC network. High speed links also connect the data gateway to a number of overseas locations.
The Australian Telecommunications Users Group (ATUG) is formed and brings together a substantial number of business users of telecommunications services. ATUG lobbies for reform in the industry as a means of enabling business users of as well as residential users to gain better telecommunications services more quickly and at lower prices.
In the early 1980s, the Sydney-Melbourne link - Australia's busiest - faced increasing demand. Much of it was because of computers, and the need for digital communications (each conversation needs two fibres). Although the link had a coaxial cable, six new microwave bearers were added to the infrastructure.
Broadcast Engineering Services (BES) is founded as a partnership between two of Western Australia's RF systems engineers. BES will later design and install Western Australia's first underground CATV cable system.
The Radio Research Board is renamed the Australian Telecommunications and Electronics Research Board, to reflect the broadened interests of the board.
AUSSAT starts commercial operations with the launch of the AUSSAT A1 satellite by the space shuttle Discovery on mission STS-511.
In January, the Disbandment of the SBS Advisory Council begins. In February, daytime television transmissions begin. The Network 0/28 TV logo is changed to SBS Television.
In May, the SBS responds to the Committee of Review report submitted to the Government. Ron Fowell's term as Executive Director ends.
In June, the Minister announces the extension of transmission on VHF channel 0 in Sydney and Melbourne until 5 January 1986. Extension of SBS Television to Newcastle, Wollongong, Adelaide, Brisbane and the Gold Coast begins.
In July, the Government transfers SBS administration of subsidies to public broadcasters for ethnic language programs to the Public Broadcasting Foundation.
In August, 2EA broadcasts in 55 languages and 3EA broadcasts in 50 languages.
In September, the new Executive Director, Ron L Brown, is appointed. In October, the Government abolishes the existing Planning Committees and establishes the National Broadcasting Development Council. The Movie Show commences on SBS Television. In November, a report by the SBS Board's Advisory Committee on Racism is submitted to the SBS Board.
Viatel, a public videotext service provided by Telecom, based on the UK's Prestel service, begins operation. The system enables the user to retrieve information from databases and to carry out transactions on external databases, including ordering products and services, banking and sending messages.
Satellite earth stations are installed on Christmas and Cocos Islands.
Digital Radio Concentrator System (DRCS) is brought into service. Earlier Research Laboratories studies had considered the problem of provision of a standard subscriber's service in a large area with very low subscriber density and concluded that a solution could be found by using a combination of concentrator techniques, digital radio and solar power in the form of a DRCS.
Australia now has the world's largest digital microwave trunk system, stretching over five thousand kilometres from Perth to Brisbane, utilising high performance antennae and it is engineered to overcome fading.
The last of the old submarine cables is taken out of commission and the Commonwealth Cable Management Committee is disbanded.
In January, VHF Channel 0 transmissions in Sydney and Melbourne cease. SBS Television becomes the sole UHF only television broadcaster in Australia.
In March, the extension of SBS Television service via AUSSAT to Perth and Hobart begins. The Government decisions on the Committee of Review report are announced. The SBS is to be replaced by Special Broadcasting Corporation on 1 July 1987.
In June, the first Corporate Plan is presented to Michael Duffy, Minister for Communications.
In August, the Government announces its intention to amalgamate the SBS with the ABC on 1 January 1987.
In December, the amalgamation legislation is defeated in the Senate. The Senate Select Committee is established to report on the issue.
Common channel signalling is introduced into the Australian national network, following earlier trials.
New services offered via INMARSAT include 56kbps data (ship/shore only) and television (shore/ship only). Some 4,000 seagoing ships have been equipped with satellite terminals.
In a January report, AUSTRADE notes that around 75 per cent of the equipment supplied by the communications industry went to Telecom, with some 80 per cent of this produced by local subsidiaries of multinationals, a dominancy, it was observed, which was not peculiar to the Australian scene. AUSTRADE reports that in addition to the major suppliers, some 250 firms are engaged in a range of activities from sub-contracting to the larger companies, to supplying equipment for attachment to the network, to provision of radio and TV broadcasting equipment. Expenditure on R&D by the industry is reported as being between three and seven per cent, well below the OECD average, while the deficit in trade in telecommunications equipment is one of the highest amongst OECD countries.
All but the most remote parts of Australia enjoy basic telephone access and the domestic and international telecommunications networks are well developed.
In February, the Minister advises the SBS Board of the Government's intention to amalgamate SBS with ABC by 1 July 1987.
In April, Prime Minister Hawke announces that the proposed ABC and SBS amalgamation will not occur.
In June, Ron Brown's term as Executive Director ends.
In November, the new Executive Director, Brian Johns, commences.
In December, the Government decides to remove the encryption requirement for SBS broadcast signals via AUSSAT, allowing people in the south eastern zone satellite beam footprint to receive both 2EA and SBS Television through use of small dish satellite receiving systems.
Telecom launches Australia’s first cellular network based on the USA AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System) – or analogue standard. Car mounted and transportable mobile phones are sold and for the first time (bulky) hand held phones can be used – they sell for $4,250. AMPS first launched in Sydney in February and in Melbourne in May. It is extended into the other capitals and major cities then into country areas.
The Melbourne-Sydney optical fibre link is installed alongside the old coaxial cable. Almost 1000 km long, it has one immediate advantage: repeaters were needed in only every third hut along the route.
In February, the Government releases the Department of Transport and Communications' discussion papers Review of National Broadcasting Policy - Australian Broadcasting Corporation. While concerned mainly with the ABC, it proposes SBS has its own Act of Parliament, formalising the central aim of providing high quality multicultural and multilingual programming. It also proposes guaranteed three year base funding at the 1987-88 level, increased annually in line with inflation.
In April, Mary Kostakidis begins as presenter of week day editions of World News.
In July, the Government releases its discussion paper Review of National Broadcasting Policy - Special Broadcasting Service. The proposed model involves: a separate SBS Act containing Charter responsibilities; an organisational structure appropriate to a modern broadcaster; and, a mixed funding regime comprising annual Budget appropriation, and other options at the discretion of the Board to obtain revenue from other sources, including television downtime usage, channel sharing, sponsorship, and sale of advertising time.
In August, the SBS launches the SBS Youth Orchestra, with founding conductor Matthew Krel and Patrons Sir Charles Mackerras and Lady Marie Shehadie.
In May, the Government announces directions for restructuring the regulatory environment for the telecommunications industry and the operations of the Government-owned carrier. In the government's 1988 telecommunications policy statement, Telecom's `principal policy objective' in the 1980s is the provision of telephone services throughout Australia on a non-discriminatory, uniform basis at affordable prices'.
The 'Carrs Report' is prepared for the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee, proposing that the AVCC endorse, and provide pooled funding for, the establishment of a network that will deliver data, voice and fax services. This service is dubbed ‘Australian Academic & Research Network (AARNet)’.
100,000th AMPS service connected (June) in Australia.
The 1988 policy reforms are implemented in the Telecommunications Act 1989 and related legislation.
The Australian Telecommunications Commission, trading as Telecom Australia, is renamed the Australian Telecommunications Corporation, trading now as Telecom Australia.
The operational and regulatory functions of Telecom are separated. The Australian Telecommunications Authority (AUSTEL) is established in July 1989 as an independent industry-specific regulator with responsibility for technical regulation, protecting the carriers' exclusive rights, protecting competitors from unfair carrier practices, protecting consumers' interests, administering price control and universal service levy arrangements and promoting carrier efficiency. AUSTEL introduces a form of 'light-handed' pricing regulation based on a 'CPI-X' price cap, with individual sub-caps on some prices.
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), sometimes referred to as narrowband, is introduced in Australia. An ISDN channel transmits information at 64kbit/s (64,000 bits per second), with a line rate of 144kbit/s. This is a standard rate for countries who have introduced ISDN. Advantages of ISDN include the relatively rapid transmission rate which means it can handle several times the data rate the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) can support.
DIALix, a private sector company, is conceived in a suburban garage in Woodlands, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia and offers modem dial-up access to a commercial Unix system at a price of 1 cent per minute. Soon afterwards, DIALix obtains a UUCP (email and Usenet news only) connection to the outside world by way of AARNet (the Australian Academic and Research Network), providing email access for the first time to many Perth residents. DIALix argues that it is the first business in Australia providing Internet access to Australians outside of the academic environment. However, Pegasus Networks' foundation CEO also argues that it offered public dialup access to the Internet in Australia, commencing in June 1989 with local access, and moving to nationwide access from 14 September 1989. It operated initially from Byron Bay, and later from Brisbane. It used UUCP and TCP/IP connections to exchange mail and newsgroups with the Internet, initially via direct dialup to USA, and later via ACSNet.
In June, the Minister gives approval for SBS to receive moneys for program sponsorship in relation to the SBS test pattern and for Rome 1990 World Cup (to be SBS's first soccer World Cup coverage).
In July, the Prime Minister announces the Government's National Agenda for a Multicultural Australia including plans for the Government to introduce legislation to establish SBS as an independent corporation with its own Charter. The SBS Television service is to be extended to a further nine major centres throughout Australia: 1991(Latrobe Valley); 1992 (Bendigo, Ballarat, Darling Downs); 1993 (Spencer Gulf, Darwin, north east Tasmania); and, 1994 (Cairns, Townsville).
The Commonwealth Government, after considerable debate and consultation, announces further reforms of the structure and ownership of telecommunications networks. A phased approach is adopted to transition from a monopoly provider to open competition in basic services. Initially, a general carrier duopoly is established as an interim measure to foster competition. As part of the reform arrangements the second carrier will be given sufficient time and a relatively stable and predictable environment within which to establish itself in the marketplace before the advent of full competition from 1 July 1997.
In March, the Government releases details of new radio news and current affairs service to be produced by SBS Radio and supplied in at least 15 different community languages to interested public radio stations throughout Australia. Also announces establishment of trainee program for people from non English speaking backgrounds.
The World Wide Web is developed by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN near Geneva and has limited impact with the viola and cello Unix-based browsers.
In June, the Government agrees to allow advertising on SBS Television and Radio under a new Charter. Five minutes of advertising or sponsorship per hour to be allowed, only between programs or in natural program breaks Guidelines covering the form, content and placement of advertisements to be set by the SBS Board after public consultations. In December, the SBS becomes a Corporation with the proclamation of the Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991.
On 1 July, the first GSM network, Radiolinja in Finland is officially opened.
In October, the first European roaming call was made between the Finnish PT and Vodafone.
In December, the last of Australia's manually operated telephone exchanges is closed at Wanaaring, NSW.
AAPT, one of Australia's three largest telecommunications carriers and part of the Telecom New Zealand Group, is established. Originally an offshoot of Australian Associated Press (AAP), AAPT starts business as Telstra's first competitor in long distance voice and data services.
Radiocommunications Act 1992 (Cth)
Nationwide News Pty Ltd v Wills
Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd v Commonwealth (No 2)
Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth)
The Australian and Overseas Telecommunications Corporation is formed on 1 February, as a result of the merger of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission into the Australian Telecommunications Corporation. The merged body continues to trade under its former identities of Telecom Australia and OTC, trading as Telecom Australia.
The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) is established by the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, and begins operations on 5 October.
Telstra completes its Rural and Remote Program and the 50,000 km inter-capital optical fibre grid around Australia.
Optus is licensed as carrier (January) and starts to resell AMPS service (June).
The 500,000th AMPS connection is made (October) and Vodafone is licensed as a carrier (December).
In December, Vodafone is awarded the third Australian mobile telecommunications carrier licence.
In November, Brian Johns resigns from the SBS to become Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority. The phased transfer of staff and facilities from Milson's Point to SBS’s new Sydney Radio and Television headquarters at Artarmon begins.
Telstra introduces the Fastpac service which is Telstra's broadband data service for high volume and capacity-on-demand applications. The Fastpac service has a number of advantages over other methods of transferring data. It is more reliable, very flexible and works at a high speed. The standard transfer rates for the Fastpac service are 2Mbit/s or 10Mbit/s.
A multimedia system called Lasercast is installed in some 4 and 5 star hotels in Sydney. Based on optical fibres, the system is interactive, allowing guests to view and choose tourist information.
Macquarie Corporate Telecommunications (later Macquarie Telecom) is founded.
The old telegram service, which is run by Australia Post, ceases.
In April, the Australian and Overseas Telecommunications Corporation becomes Telstra Corporation Limited. Telstra traded internationally under this name from that point onward, but domestically it retains the Telecom Australia identity.
The Spectrum Management Agency (SMA) is created to manage the radiofrequency spectrum, taking over this role from the Commonwealth Department of Transport and Communications.
On 27 April, Telstra officially launches the new digital (GSM) network. Optus launches GSM in May, and Vodafone launches its GSM digital network in October. The MTS Phone System for mobiles is phased out. There are just 635,000 analogue mobiles in Australia, and less than 4% of people have one.
In March, the SBS Board announces the appointment of the 14 members of the SBS Community Advisory Committee (CAC). Mr Steve A Karas OAM is the Chairman. Malcolm Long appointed SBS Managing Director. SBS's Codes of Practice is published. In November, Prime Minister Paul Keating officially opens the new Artarmon building. In December, SBS Television is now available in Cairns and Townsville.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) is established by the Australian Federal Government. The TIO is independent of industry, the government and consumer organisations and is a free and independent alternative dispute resolution scheme for small business and residential consumers in Australia who have a complaint about their telephone or Internet service. The TIO is authorised to investigate complaints about the provision or supply of telephone or Internet services.
In April, Telstra launches its GSM network. There are just 635,000 analogue mobiles in Australia, and less than 4% of people have one.
The Minister of Finance commissions the Information Technology Review Group to identify opportunities for the Commonwealth Government in taking advantage of developments in information technology (IT). The Group is charged with considering the major trends in the development of technology, assessing their applicability to and likely impact on Commonwealth information technology, and providing options for the Government on ways of achieving economies of scale and developing "whole of government" approaches in IT.
AARNet introduces a 'Value Added Reseller' (VAR) program, charging them under a volume (per-megabyte) charging scheme. The first ISP in this formal sense was connect.com.au in May.
The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association is launched in February. By this time, Australia has achieved the fourth highest mobile penetration per capita in the world and the Australian market is growing at a faster rate than the three higher-ranked nations.  By 1995 there were an estimated 2.25 million mobile subsribers in Australia. The AMTA’s mission statement is: To promote a socially, environmentally and financially responsible and successful mobile telecommunications industry in Australia. To achieve its mission, the Association provides a forum in which all key stakeholders can discuss issues influencing the development of cellular/wireless telecommunications applications in Australia, including providing input to policy makers and regulators as well as promoting the growth of the industry. The broad representation reflected in the Association's membership is a particular strength as it enables industry-wide issues to be discussed in an open forum, taking into account the views of the cross section of industry.
The one-millionth analogue mobile phone connection network is made (early March).
In January, the SBS Radio national network is launched, providing an SBS Radio service to Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin. Sydney and Melbourne Radio Stations 2EA and 3EA, are renamed Radio Sydney and Radio Melbourne respectively. In July, the second radio frequencies for Sydney and Melbourne begin. In October, as part of its Creative Nation cultural policy statement, and in recognition of the importance of developing programming to reflect Australia's multicultural society, the Federal Government provides funds of $13m over four years to SBS to commission high quality Australian programs for SBS Television.
The Primus Telecommunications Group Inc is formed. Based in McLean, Primus has offices in Canada, United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Germany, France, Japan and Australia with North America, Asia-Pacific and Europe as primary service regions.
Neighbourhood Cable incorporated as a private company.
From 1 July, the Telstra Corporation Limited adopts the trading name Telstra for domestic operations.
Telstra runs a trial involving about 300 Melbourne homes which are provided with access to a range of first generation interactive multimedia services (including video-on-demand) via ADSL.
In July, the AVCC transfers its commercial customers, associated assets, and the management of interstate and international links to Telstra. Telstra acquires the whole of the infrastructure that at this stage constitutes 'the Internet in Australia', spawning what is subsequently to become Telstra BigPond.
In March, the Information Technology Review Group delivers the report Clients First: the challenge for Government information technology, which provides recommendations to Government that coordinated and standardised approaches to IT resources should be developed across agencies.  The report also recommends that architectures and standards should be improved to enable better interconnection, contestability and outsourcing should be applied to the most effective delivery of solutions, and that access to and movement of critical information across departmental boundaries should be improved.
By July there are 300,000 connections on the now three digital GSM networks and the two millionth AMPS connection is made.
In June, SBS Radio celebrates its 20th anniversary. Common language (English) programs launched on SBS Radio. In July, the launch of Insight, a weekly SBS Television current affairs program with a multicultural focus occurs. The SBS Handbook of Editorial and Programming Procedures is published. In September, the Indigenous Unit, Kuri Gnia, is established in Television Production.
An optical fibre link across Bass Strait to Tasmania is completed.
In September 1996 APEC Telecommunications Ministers endorse the Reference List of Elements of a Fully Liberalised Telecommunications Services Sector. The Reference List provides a broad perspective on the expectations of a liberalised telecommunications sector and catalogues the key features of a liberalised market largely from the point of view of users and other market participants.
Following its election in March 1996, the Howard Government moves to implement the partial privatisation of Telstra by selling one third of its equity in Telstra.
In August, the Information Policy Advisory Council (IPAC) is established by the Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston as a high-level advisory body on online information and communications services and technologies. IPACs role is to investigate and provide advice and recommendations to the Commonwealth Government on the full range of social, technological and regulatory issues emerging from the rapid development of online services, particularly the Internet, and their increasing use by governments, businesses and other sectors of the community.
In June, the one millionth GSM connection is made and the AMPS network connections peaks at 2.6 million customers.
In February, SBS Radio's Canberra service begins broadcasting.
The first edition of 13 part series, ICAM (Indigenous Cultural Affairs Magazine) is broadcast in February 1996. In April, SBS Radio's Hobart service begins and completes the SBS Radio national network, linking all State and Territory capital cities. In May, the SBSI financed film, The Quiet Room, is selected for competition at the 49th Cannes International Film Festival, and No Way to Forget, one of six short dramas in the SBSI financed film, From Sand to Celluloid, is selected for the Cannes Un Certain Regard category. In June, the New SBS Enterprise Agreement certified, establishing tailored terms and conditions of employment for SBS staff. In July, the Board releases the new SBS Corporate Plan 1996-99. In August, the extension of SBS Television to NSW north coast and Albury Wodonga commences. Self-operation for Broadcaster/Journalists is introduced into SBS Radio. In September, the Networking of Radio programs between Radio Sydney and Melbourne is introduced. In December, the SBS publishes its revised Codes of Practice.
United Energy Telecommunications (UET) is formed as a subsidiary of Melbourne energy utility United Energy.
Unexpectedly rapid growth of the Internet results in an imminent international capacity bottleneck for some carriers in Australia and New Zealand. The Pacrim Cable System is clearly unable to support new forecasts for capacity growth to the emerging heart of the internet in California, USA. Telecom New Zealand and Optus engage in discussions with a variety of carriers in Australasia and the United States to gauge support for a new trans-Pacific cable.
The Telecommunications Act 1997 and related package of legislation comes into force in July 1997, ushering a new era of open competition for the telecommunications sector. The main policy objective of the legislative reform package is to provide a regulatory framework that promotes the long-term interests of end-users of carriage services, or services supplied by means of carriage services, and the efficiency and international competitiveness of the Australian telecommunications industry.
Telstra undergoes a partial privatisation in November under which the Commonwealth sells approximately 33.3% of the issued shares to the public. Following the initial privatisation, those that are not held by the Commonwealth are quoted on the Australian Stock Exchange and on the New Zealand Stock Exchange. American depositary shares, each representing five shares evidenced by American depositary receipts, are issued by the Bank of New York as depositary (Depositary) and are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
The Australian Communications Authority is established under the Australian Communications Authority Act 1997, and exercises powers under the Telecommunications Act 1997, the Radiocommunications Act 1992, and other related legislation.
The Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF) is established in May as the peak industry body to facilitate and manage telecommunications self-regulation. ACIF's main role is to develop and administer industry technical and operating arrangements that promote both the long-term interests of end-users and the efficiency and international competitiveness of the Australian communications industry. Its primary functions include development of industry codes of practice for registration and the timely production of technical standards, specifications, plans and guidelines that the industry and community need.
In July, the report of the Information Industries Taskforce 'The Global Information Economy - The Way Ahead' proposes establishment of a National Information Industries Strategy.  The findings of the Taskforce propose an action agenda to actively position Australia within the information economy.
In August, the IPAC report A National Policy Framework for Structural Adjustment Within the New 'Commonwealth of Information' is completed.
On 16 September, the Prime Minister announces the establishment of the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) as a separate office within the portfolio held by Senator Richard Alston - Communications, the Information and the Arts. NOIE, advised by a private sector Board given the role to develop, coordinate and provide broad policy overview relating to:
  • establishing the regulatory, legal and physical infrastructure environment for online activities;
  • facilitating electronic commerce;
  • ensuring a consistent Commonwealth position in international fora;
  • overseeing policies for applying new technology to government administration and information and service provision.
Ministerial Council for the Information Economy set up at the same time as a high level Commonwealth committee that coordinates the Government's agenda for Australia in the information economy. It is chaired by Senator Alston and including the Ministers for: Trade; Industry, Science and Tourism; Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs; Finance and Administration; and the Treasurer and the Attorney-General. IPAC remains as an expert policy advisory body reporting to Senator Alston.
On 2 October, Senator Alston announces establishment of NOIE Advisory Board of Directors chaired by Don Mercer. On 17 October, Senator Alston announces Dr Rod Badger's appointment as Acting CEO of the National Office for the Information Economy. On 13 November, members of the NOIE Advisory Board of Directors are announced.
In February, Quadrant Research is commissioned to undertake audience surveys of designated language communities to determine use of and attitudes to SBS Radio and Television. In March, closed captioning of World News is introduced. In June, the Board determines that SBS Radio will be able to accept commercial advertising. In July, Training in Radio for Young People (TRY!) commences as a pilot project. In August, Malcolm Long resigns as Managing Director. In September, a proposal is put forward for the relocation of SBS's Melbourne facilities to the new Federation Square development. The release of the Technology Strategy Plan, includes the conversion of broadcasting activities from analogue to digital.
The AVCC develops AARNet2, a further refinement of the Internet in Australia, which employs high bandwidth ATM links and Internet services under a contract with Cable & Wireless Optus (CWO) - now Optus. The rapid deployment of IP services by Optus to meet the AARNet2 requirements follows, in part due to the transfer of knowledge and expertise from AARNet.
The Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF), a member-funded organisation is established with the aim of leading industry involvement in defining the communications environment. The ACIF ‘provides a neutral forum in which all participants and end-users in the Australian communications industry can work together to foster an efficient, competitive environment'.
United Energy Telecommunications (UET) becomes the first electricity distribution business to be licensed as a telecommunications carrier. UET begins building bespoke fibre networks for corporate and carrier customers.
On 1 July, AAPT is awarded a carrier licence when legislative restriction on the maximum number of carrier licences in the Australian telecommunications industry is removed. In November 1997, AAPT completes a public offering and is the first telecommunications carrier to list on the Australian Stock Exchange.
Neighbourhood Cable is invited by the Mildura Rural City Council to build an HFC network in Mildura. Construction commences and in December, the Company has connected its first subscriber to Australia's first independent HFC infrastructure full service telecommunications network.
Primus (listed on NAADAQ, based in Washington DC and formed by a group of former MCI exectuives) begins operating in Australia following its acquisition of Australian-based telecommunications reseller Axicorp. The acquisition of Axicorp allows Primus to obtain its telecommunication carriers license and begins operating in Australia on 1 July.
In July, Telecom New Zealand, Optus and MFS Globenet (subsequently taken over by WorldCom) agree to sponsor the Southern Cross project. In October, a tender is issued to submarine cable suppliers. In November, the first Data Gathering Meeting is held in Sydney to make pre-RFS sales that can be used to raise finance for the project. Some 26 customers sign up committing a total of USD 642 million in future revenue should the cable proceed. 78% of the commitment is made by investment grade companies, but significantly a number of smaller carriers, service providers, ISPs and a broadcaster also purchase. It is the first time in the region that direct purchase from a submarine cable network was open to these companies.
A new regulatory framework established a Telecommunications Access Forum (TAF) - a non-government industry body in which all carriers and carriage service providers may participate. The role of the TAF is to recommend to the ACCC that certain services should be declared and to develop a Telecommunications Access Code that sets out model terms and conditions for use in voluntary access undertakings. The ACCC has designated the Australian Communications Access Forum Inc (ACMAF - an incorporated association of carriers and CSPs) to be the TAF. The access Code is approved in January 1998.
On 4 February, Senator Alston announces Dr Paul Twomey's appointment as new CEO of the National Office for the Information Economy.
During 16-17 April, NOIE co-hosts with Telstra a national summit on electronic commerce E-Commerce: Enabling Australia Summit.
On 13 November, the ANTA Ministerial Council agrees to an ANTA National Project to implement AEShareNet and that up to $3.03 million be allocated for its establishment and its first three years of operation. The Ministerial Council also agrees that, as part of the Project, work to clarify copyright ownership should be conducted by the Commonwealth and States and Territories, with up to $500,000 (additional to the $3.03 million) being allocated for this purpose. ‘AEShareNet will be an on-line copyright licensing "club", where members agree to standard licensing regimes identified by a specific licence mark. Application of a particular mark by the copyright owner will signify the basis on which that copyright material may be used, adapted or commercialised by other AEShareNet members'.
In December, the Department of Industry, Science and Resources E-Commerce Branch is integrated in NOIE.
Telstra MobileNet customers (both AMPS and GSM) exceed three million Telstra announces plans to build a new mobile network to replace the AMPS Analogue network, which will be phased out due to government regulation. The new network will be based on Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology.
In February, Nigel Milan is appointed Managing Director of SBS for a five year term. In May, the Government allocates $17.7m to SBS over five years for digital conversion. The Government renews funding for the SBS Independent production fund with $19m allocated over four years. In June, the SBS releases the SBS Service Commitment (Service Charter). In July, SBS TV's coverage of the 1998 World Cup is the biggest and most successful ever. In August, South Park becomes the most popular series ever shown on SBS TV. In November, SBS Radio's two outside broadcast units are launched.
PowerTel, an Australian listed company, is established in August with the purchase of Spectrum Global Networks. PowerTel is a provider of infrastructure based data, voice and internet services in Australia.
In March, following tender evaluation and contract negotiations, a consortium of Alcatel and Fujitsu is selected to construct the Southern Cross cable network. The network architecture is fixed as a triple ring network using SDH transmitting over 3 cable pairs operating DWDM technology at 16 colours and 2.5 gigabits per colour. The sponsors sign an Instruction to Proceed (ITP) with Alcatel-Fujitsu, and over the following months commit USD 80m on the initial construction prior to the establishment of Southern Cross Cables Limited (SCCL) and Pacific Carriage Limited (PCL) and the awarding of the full supply contract in October. In May, three banks, Deutsche Bank AG, Barclays Capital and ABN AMRO, are appointed as lead arrangers and underwriters to fund US$920 million of debt for the limited recourse financing of the project. In October, Baldo Sutich is appointed President and CEO of Southern Cross, a Project Finance Facility Agreement (PFFA) is signed by SCCL and PCL with the Lead Arrangers to secure financing for the network. Bank debt finance and Sponsor Equity brings total funding to over USD 1 billion. Southern Cross Cables Limited and Pacific Carriage Limited become fully funded independent companies to build, market and operate the Southern Cross Cable Network. The three owners are TNZ (50%), Optus (40%) and MCI (10%). The final supply contract, valued at USD 800 million to build the network, is awarded to the Alcatel-Fujitsu consortium. Additional costs for terrestrial cable sections and cable stations take the total network cost to USD 1 billion.
The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) absorbs IT responsibilities. NOIE commences operation as a line area within DCITA.
Under the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection & Services Standards) Act 1999, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts has certain powers of direction over Telstra in relation to service standards and consumer safeguards. This power will remain, irrespective of the Commonwealth's level of ownership in Telstra.
In June, legislation is passed authorising the sale of a further 16.6 per cent of Telstra. A further global offering by the Commonwealth of up to 16.6% of the issued shares is launched in September 1999. The shares sold by the Commonwealth are also listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, the New Zealand Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange on 18 October. The Commonwealth currently owns approximately 50.1% of the issued shares and is required by legislation to own at least that much.
auDA is formed, as the culmination of efforts since 1995, to manage the .au domain space, a vital national resource.
In September, the Telstra CDMA network is launched launch. The CDMA digital covers more than twice the area of the GSM network. The majority of the AMPS networks is closed on 31 December.
In April, the National Transmission network is sold to ntl Australia. In May, installation of time delay systems to South Australia and the conversion to digital of SBS’s two analogue satellite services is undertaken. In July, the SBS Transmission Services division is established to manage transmission and self-help services. In September, the Turkish Language Radiothon raises $1.2 million for earthquake victims. In October, the telecast of a two-part SBS-produced series, The Snowy, commences on 50th anniversary of the Snowy Mountains Scheme. In November, the first SBS webcast of the AFI Awards occurs. In December, Sir Nicholas Shehadie completes his term as Chairman (1981-99) and Ms Carla Zampatti is appointed Chairman for five-year term.
NetAlert Limited (NetAlert) is established as Australia's Internet safety advisory body. The Australian Government sets up NetAlert as a not-for-profit community organisation established to provide independent advice and education on managing access to online content. NetAlert's vision is ‘a safer Internet experience, particularly for young people and their families'.
In October, UET changes its name to Uecomm.
Amcom commences fibre rollout and later deploy over 700km of high-speed Metropolitan Networks, accessing over 550 buildings in Perth, Adelaide and Darwin.
Amcom completes its fibre rollout and lists on the ASX.
In March, the rapid growth of the Internet leads to the announcement of many new cable projects throughout the world. Numerous trans-Pacific cables seek to land in California, the heart of the Internet. Southern Cross and other cable companies face a longer permit process than originally anticipated and consequently experience considerable delays in securing landing rights in California. In July, Oceanic Cable laying starts. Over the next 19 months the laying operation employs the services of seven cable laying ships that successfully lay a total of 28,500 kilometers of undersea cable. The record depth was reached while laying the cable on the eastern side of Lord Howe Rise, 1,300 kilometers out of Sydney towards Fiji. In August, Southern Cross reduces base capacity prices by 67% and awards existing customers additional capacity at earlier dates to compensate them for the price reduction. An un-protected capacity product is introduced, but 97% of customers opt for protected capacity. "Hawaii Fibre-0" Data Gathering Meeting is held on the big island of Hawaii raising an additional USD 553 million in capacity pre-sales. In December, the three Southern Cross owners take on the project finance role from the Banks.
In December, the Australian Government formally endorses auDA as the appropriate body to administer the .au domain space. The Government holds reserve powers in relation to domain names under the Telecommunications Act 1997.
On 10 July, Senator Alston announces the resignation of Dr Paul Twomey as CEO of the National Office for the Information Economy.
On 11 October, the National Office for the Information Economy is established as an Executive Agency. Office of Government Online (OGO - formerly OGIT) merges with NOIE.
On 20 December, Senator Alston announces the appointment of John Rimmer to the position of Chief Executive Officer of the National Office for the Information Economy.
Hutchison launches CDMA in Sydney and Melbourne (March), and OneTel launches GSM 1800 (June). The AMPS is fully closed (September).
In February, the New Media division of SBS is established. SBS Television's share of total TV free-to-air viewing exceeds 4% in 1999. In May, the 10 hour Corroboree 2000 is broadcast live. Going Home, SBS Television's biggest-ever local production, begins. In June, SBS Television wins the Banff Global Outstanding Achievement Award and SBS Radio's 25th anniversary celebrations commence. The SBS web site carries audio-on-demand for four SBS Radio language programs. In November, the AFI Awards are broadcast live and streamed live on the SBS website. In December, SBS TV's analogue service is extended to 77 new locations.
The Advanced Networks Program (ANP) is established as part of the Commonwealth Government’s Building Information Technology Strengths (BITS) initiative which is funded from the partial sale of Telstra.
In November, AAPT is fully acquired by Telecom New Zealand and is subsequently delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange.
Uecomm lists on the Australian Stock Exchange in September with United Energy retaining a 66% shareholding in the company.
Macquarie Telecom acquires its telecommunications carrier licence in Australia.
In April, Neighbourhood Cable Limited is listed as the public company. Capital funding finances the rollout of Neighbourhood Cable's second city, Ballarat and the company attracts the interest of Hong Kong based Telecom Venture Group (TVG).  In June 2001, Neighbourhood Cable finalises an agreement with TVG to provide funding of up to $40 million. The additional funding allows the Company to complete the roll-out of the Ballarat network and commence and complete construction in Geelong.
In February, Southern Cross achieves the world record for plough burial of cable. On 21 February the CS Vercors plough-buries the cable 0.8 metres under the seabed in water 1,610 metres deep. This is believed to be the greatest depth of water in which a submarine cable has been buried by a cable plough being towed by a cable laying ship. In March, Southern Cross takes decisive action to keep the project on track and decides to land at Nedonna Beach, Oregon, at an additional cost of USD 100 million. The Monterey cable landing is put on hold and Southern continues to seek approval for a Morro Bay landing. In May, cable laying of the parts of the network that go live on 15 November is completed. In August, Southern Cross reduces base capacity prices by 20% and awards all existing price protected customers 25% additional capacity. Multi-drop ring products are introduced which allow customers to drop traffic from the same ring in several countries. Most customers (85%) still opt for Southern Cross protected capacity, 12% for Multi-drop rings (in which the customer manages their own protection) and 3% for un-protected capacity. The ‘Surfin URL’ Data Gathering Meeting raises a further USD 443 million in capacity sales bringing total pre-RFS sales to US$ 1.6 billion and total customers to 41. On 15 November, Southern Cross is live for customer Service. All segments except the second link between Hawaii and the US Mainland are available for customer service. Total lit protected capacity between Australasia/Hawaii and the US is 20 Gigabits.
Unwired is formed on 11 August through the incorporation of Unwired Australia Pty Limited, and initial equity capital raising undertaken in 2000 and 2001 raises a total of $128.8 million. These funds are used to purchase spectrum licences and fund the initial start-up and planning costs for Unwired's proposed fixed wireless access (FWA) network.
On 1 July, the National Office for the Information Economy is established as a Prescribed Agency under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. Its status as a separate agency reflects Government's need for an independent cross portfolio advocate on information economy issues.
In October, ICANN recognises auDA as the suitable operator for .au under a Sponsorship Agreement.
FedLink, an ‘innovative and cost-effective solution for enabling secure communications between Government agencies’, is fully implemented in 2001 when all Commonwealth agencies have access to the network. FedLink is a Virtual Private Network that ‘provides secure and trusted communications across the Internet that also provides an evolutionary path to secure e-business transactions and full multimedia applications. It promotes a new era of secure information management and exchange for all Government agencies'.
OneTel GSM 1800 closes (June). The number of mobiles in Australia exceeds the number of wired access lines 10.7 million (February). Telstra commercially launches GPRS data network across GSM Mobile number portability (September).
In January, the SBS's digital television service begins in the five mainland cities. In June, the first online educational site, Gold, is launched. In July, SBS Radio begins broadcasts in Wagga Wagga. In August, the Digital SBS TV service in Canberra begins. In September, four-year funding to SBS Independent is increased. In October, SBS Radio Online is launched by Prime Minister Howard. In December, SBS TV records a 5.2% average weekly audience share for 2001.
SingTel becomes the parent company of Optus (SingTel is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) and the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX)).
AARNet deploys its first international capacity by acquiring 310 Mbps of capacity from Sydney via Hawaii to Seattle. This provides access to the advanced research and education networks of many countries including North America, Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Asia and South America.
In May, Agile Communications builds the Coorong Network, a microwave network interlinking Adelaide, Murray Bridge, Tailem Bend, Binnies Hill, Tintinara and Meningie using Cisco based hardware. This network uses Cisco AS5400 Universal Port Hardware capable of VoIP and broadband from the same hardware.
In January, the laying of the Southern Cross submarine cable is completed. In February, the Hawaii-US loop is closed. The 2 cable Network is completed and capacity is now able to be fully protected. After extensive supplier tests on the completed network Southern Cross announces that 10 Gbit/s DWDM technology can be applied to the Network and that it will progressively expand the network to 240 Gbit/s of lit protected capacity by early 2003 by equipping the third fibre pair with the new 10 Gbit/s DWDM. This brings total planned expenditure on the network to USD 1.3 billion. On 4 March, the fully protected loop network to the US Mainland is available for service and Southern Cross refinances the project. A consortium of 24 banks led by Barclays Capital and ANZ Bank provides USD 950 million in finance. Southern Cross announces a USD 200 million dividend to the three sponsors. In May, Fiona Beck becomes new President and CEO of Southern Cross. Southern Cross completes its first capacity expansion which increases lit protected capacity to 60 Gigabit/s in response to strong customer demand. In July, Southern Cross decommissions segment F1 between Nedonna and Hawaii for around 12 days to reposition the cable to satisfy requests of Oregon permit authorities. In a storm off Sydney a Russian ship drags its anchor severing the Southern Cross Cable. Australian customers suffer an outage for up to 12 hours while Southern Cross re-commissions segment F1. In August, in response to customer demand Southern Cross introduces a lease option as well as a 2 Drop ring capacity configuration. The fourth Data Gathering Meeting (DGM) ‘Gigabits Island’ is held at the Princeville Hotel, Kauai, Hawaii. The meeting is attended by 96 people from 47 companies representing customers, capacity re-sellers, backhaulers, co-locators, data centre operators.
Southern Cross President & CEO outlines steps to further strengthen the Southern Cross protected loop so that it is more likely to withstand double outages. In December, Southern Cross completes its second capacity expansion taking total lit protected capacity to 80 Gbit/s.
In the CTS, TransACT begins rolling out a fibre-optic network to provide Canberra and Queanbeyan with the next generation of communication services. Shareholders of TransACT include: ACTEW Corporation Ltd, TVG TransACT Holdings SCA, AGL TransACT Pty Limited, Marconi Corporation plc, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, MTAA Superannuation Fund (TransACT) Utilities Pty Ltd, Westscheme Pty Limited and Australian Capital Ventures Limited.
The one billionth mobile service in the world is connected (April). The 12 millionth Australian mobile service is connected (March).
In March, the Adelaide Festival premiere of four features is co-produced with SBSI. In April, the SBS digital TV service begins in Newcastle and an SBS transmitter is relocated from Gore Hill to Artarmon. In May, SBS Radio begins broadcasts in Bathurst. In June, The World News Channel is launched on the digital service. SBS Melbourne officially moves to Federation Square. Record ratings occur for FIFA World Cup broadcasts (average 8.9% share). In August, the Head of Television, Peter Cavanagh, leaves after five years. In November, Living Diversity: Australia's Multicultural Future is published. In December, SBS TV records a 5.5% average weekly audience share for 2002.
GrangeNet (GRid And Next GEneration Network) is launched on 16 October. GrangeNet has built a 10 gbps backbone network between Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, with a 5 gbps backbone from Sydney to Brisbane, using PowerTel's infrastructure. As with CeNTIE, individual institutions are connected with 1 gbps tails. GrangeNet is being used by universities for e-science projects, including computational grids and the Australian Nimrod Testbed. GrangeNet later interconnects with CeNTIE and also interconnects with AARNet to provide members with access to AARNet's international links, including its dual 155 mbps links across the Pacific. m.Net is launched at the World Congress on IT, held in Adelaide in February. m.Net has a pre-commercial third generation (3G) mobile network in Adelaide with nodes in Whyalla, Melbourne and Sydney and a wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) testbed in Adelaide.
PIPE Networks (incorporated as IX Services Australia Pty Ltd trading as PIPE Networks) in December, 2001) formally commences operations in May 2002. In May, PIPE launches its first peering/IX point and is now recognised as Australia's largest peering provider, operating 16 IX points in 6 cities with over 130 active connections. The company's peering customers include some of Australia's largest content and internet service providers including WebCentral, The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, iiNet, Primus, TPGi and AsiaNetcom. In July, PIPE Networks is granted a Telecommunications Carrier Licence by the Australian Communications Authority as part of the Company's plans to interconnect each of its IX locations in the same city via its own fibre optic network. Upon constructing the fibre optic network between its Brisbane IX locations, PIPE Networks recognises there is substantial demand from corporate and government organisations seeking direct access to dark fibre.
In May, following a pilot survey conducted over December/January, AC Nielson conducts the interviews for the first full Customer Satisfaction survey. All Southern Cross Customers are invited to participate. Lit protected capacity is expanded to 130 Gigabits resulting from the first use of 10 Gigabits technology on the cable network. In June, Southern Cross upgrades capacity across segment I (between the Hawaiian Islands) allowing the network to be quickly reconfigured to a figure 8 in the event of double cable outages affecting both sides of the loop network between Australasia and the US mainland. In July, Segment F1 is decommissioned for a period of two weeks to repair a localized 32 kilometer section of cable. Customer traffic is unaffected due to the loop nature of the network. On 16 August, San Jose is commissioned as the 10th access point on the Network. In September, a further capacity expansion takes lit protected capacity to 150 Gigabit/s.
In April, Hutchison’s ‘3’ launches Australia's first 3G mobile network with access to Australia's largest 3G network. Over 850,000 customers are experiencing live Mobile TV, full length audio and video music tracks, multiplayer games, Mobile Broadband, face to face Video Calling and more in 3's Broadband Zones. ‘3’ customers can connect with Talk, SMS, MMS, IM and Email covering 96% of Australia's population.
In March, Telstra launches Telstra Mobile Loop based on its 3G network.
In January, the new Head of Television at SBS, Shaun Brown, is appointed. In March, the New Media Unit's "Whatever" music double CD released. All 68 SBS Radio languages are available "on demand" on the SBS website. In April, the SBS Radio schedule is revised with new languages added (Malay, Somali, Nepalese, Amhric) and four dropped (Belarusian, Scottish-Gaelic, Irish-Gaelic, Welsh). Hours are increased for Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic, Tagalog, Hindi and reduced hours for Maltese, Portuguese, Yiddish, Turkish and Hebrew. In June, 27 digital transmitters are on air. In September, Inside Australia half-hour prime time documentary stream is launched. In October, Tagalog, Arabic and Vietnamese news programs are added to the WorldWatch schedule. There is suspension of Vietnamese broadcasts (17 October) following community protests.
In January, the report ‘Australia's Broadband Connectivity: The Broadband Advisory Group's Report to Government’ is completed.
In July, United Energy Ltd is acquired by interests associated with AMP and Alinta Ltd. As part of the acquisition, United Energy’s 66% shareholding in Uecomm and the $80 million funding facility are transferred to Alinta.
The Centre for Networking Technologies for the Information Economy (CeNTIE) is launched on 10 April. CeNTIE establishes an advanced optical fibre network for research into networking technologies to enable next generation information economy business systems. CeNTIE has built gigabit-capacity networks in Sydney and Perth, including testbeds in Sydney for tele-health and the film post production industry and leases a 10 gbps wavelength between Perth and Melbourne. Individual institutions are connected with 1 gbps tails. Its research currently concentrates on networking technologies, driven in part by four focus groups in tele-health, media systems, tele-collaboration and information brokering. CeNTIE interconnects with GrangeNet in Melbourne to provide an advanced research backbone from Brisbane to Perth.
In October, Agile Communications installs its own equipment in the Telstra Exchange at Meningie, South Australia to provide ADSL to a town where Telstra was yet to provide Broadband ADSL. Agile claims that it is the first exchange in Australia where ADSL is available, but not through Telstra. Later, Agile begins a rollout of a national network, an optic fibre based IP network running on STM-1 Packet over Sonet(POS) links to connect all Agile POPs across Australia. The national network currently extends to 2 points of presence in Adelaide and Melbourne, 3 in Brisbane, 5 in Sydney and 1 in Perth, Canberra and Hobart.
In January, the lit protected capacity of the Southern Cross network is expanded to 240 Gbit/s.
On 13 October, Nokia and TeliaSonera Finland successfully conduct the world's first EDGE-WCDMA 3G packet data handover in commercial network.
In May, SingTel Optus Pty Ltd ("Optus") announces a takeover offer for Uecomm through its wholly owned subsidiary, Optus Networks Pty Ltd. The takeover is successful, and in August, Uecomm is delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange. Uecomm is now a SingTel Optus company, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Optus Networks Pty Ltd. As a licensed telecommunications carrier, Uecomm owns and operate one of the largest and most advanced metropolitan optical networks in Australia. Uecomm is a high bandwidth data specialist providing dark fibre services and converged solutions such as voice over IP (VoIP), Uecomm is the first company in Australia to offer managed Gigabit Ethernet Metropolitan Area Networks and managed WDM solutions.
On 8 April, the National Office for the Information Economy becomes the Australian Government Information Management Office, with some functions transferring to the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts' Information Economy branch. The head of the agency is given the title Australian Government Chief Information Officer.
On 22 October, the Australian Government Information Management Office is incorporated in the Department of Finance and Administration, ceasing as an executive agency. Title of Australian Government Chief Information Officer is retained.
In February, SBS Independent commissions the animation, Harvey Krumpet, and wins an Academy Award. Test transmissions of the SBS signal commence on the Foxtel digital platform. In March, Storyline Australia, a one-hour prime time documentary stream, is launched. Insight is relaunched as a public forum format. In April, the SBS secures rights to the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The Movie Show hosts, Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton, move to ABC TV. In August, the SBS broadcast of Athens Olympics occurs in partnership with Seven Network. In September, SBS Radio's Hindi language program wins the network's first Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union award. In November, plans are released for the rollout of 87 new digital transmitters up to 2007. The Board approves the revised Codes of Practice and Editorial Guidelines, particularly complaints handling procedures.
On 14 February, Ericsson demonstrates 9 Mbps with WCDMA, HSDPA phase 2. On May 10, Ericsson and 3 Scandinavia demonstrates 1.5 Mbps enhanced uplink in a live WCDMA system.
On 1 July, the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Communications Authority merge to become the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
On 17 August, the Australian Government announces a $1.1 billion communications package for regional access to telecommunications services. Connect Australia will rollout improved broadband to people living in regional, rural and remote areas, extend mobile phone coverage, build new regional communications networks and set up vital telecommunications services for remote Indigenous communities.
Agile Communications extends their national network to the US with 2 points of presence: one in Los Angeles and one in San Jose.
On 15 July 2005, Neighbourhood Cable ceases to be publicly listed on the ASX after it is acquired by TVG Neighbourhood Cable Holdings SCA.
Broadband Connect is established by DCITA as part of Connect Australia and represents an $878 million initiative of the Australian Government to provide registered Internet service providers with incentive payments to supply higher bandwidth services in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia at prices comparable to those available in metropolitan areas. Broadband Connect is being implemented in two stages – Stage 1 commences on 1 January 2006 and is expected to end on 30 June 2006. It is anticipated that Stage 2 will commence on 1 July 2006.
On 1 March, Silk telecom, Australia’s newest infrastructure carrier, is launched at the Adelaide Convention Centre. Silk telecom originates from three Australian electricity distribution businesses owned by Cheung Kong Infrastructure (CKI) and Hongkong Electric Holdings (HEH) - ETSA Utilities, Powercor Australia and Citipower. Silk telecom operates optic fibre telecommunications networks in Adelaide, Melbourne, and key regional centres in South Australia and Victoria, with a presence in Darwin. Silk telecom has acquired strategic commercial telecommunications assets from ETSA Utilities and Powercor Australia.