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MCI proposes independent dispute resolution body for telecoms industry

Friday, August 5, 2016 - 12:03
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The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) is looking to establish an alternative dispute resolution mechanism for the telecommunications and media sectors on the lines of the one established for the financial industry, the FIDReC (Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre Ltd).

THE Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) is looking to establish an alternative dispute resolution mechanism for the telecommunications and media sectors on the lines of the one established for the financial industry, the FIDReC (Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre Ltd).

Like the FIDReC, the proposed body would be an independent and impartial institution specialising in the resolution of disputes between consumers and their service providers. The body's ruling would be binding on the service providers but not on the consumers.

This proposal is a part of planned amendments to the Telecommunications Act (TA) and corresponding changes to the Media Development Authority of Singapore Act. MCI is seeking public feedback for these changes, and the public consultation process will be from Aug 5-24.

The other proposed changes include expanding the rent-free Mobile Deployment Space (MDS) in buildings to cover both rooftop and non-rooftop areas. Building owners will have to provide some rooftop space for mobile network equipment, if requested.

The current Copif 2013 (Code of practice for info-communications facilities in buildings 2013) does not have this stipulation. However, the total amount of MDS to be provided on a rent-free basis will remain unchanged initially and mobile operators will continue to have to negotiate with building owners to obtain additional space beyond this amount.

MCI is also proposing administrative amendments to the TA to strengthen the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore's (IDA) regulatory oversight of the telecommunications industry. For example, in view of the rising number of cable cut incidents in recent years, MCI and IDA propose to increase the maximum composition sum for offences under the TA from S$5,000 to S$10,000 to more effectively deter future occurrences.

The TA is the legislative framework that governs the regulation of Singapore's telecommunications sector. It was last revised in 2012. MCI and IDA are reviewing the TA to ensure that policies and legislative frameworks remain relevant and effective in the fast-changing telecommunications landscape, a MCI spokesman said.