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Comms Annual Report 2014–15

Communications portfolio

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About the Department

The Department of Communications promotes an innovative and competitive communications sector so Australians can realise the full potential of digital technologies and communications services.

Case study

Bureau of Communications Research

Established in September 2014, the Bureau of Communications Research is the Department’s independent economic and statistical research unit.

It plays a critical role in supporting the Department’s role as the pre-eminent advisor on communications. This includes strengthening the Department’s strategic advice capability and supporting policy areas through research to identify, assess and explain developments in digital technologies and communications markets and services, including analysis of international communications policy, trends and issues.

It publishes communications data and research in an easy-to-read format and works with industry, researchers, other areas of government and the public to support informed discussion on policy and regulatory issues in the communications sector.

It has established a research and analysis work programme structured around core strategic research, commissioned projects, improving capability and collaboration, a publication programme, and stakeholder engagement. The programme includes:

  • Assessing the impact of digitisation on national productivity.
  • Identifying factors that facilitate or impede the efficient uptake and use of digital services, and describing subsequent policy options.
  • Assessing the economic benefits of open government data.
  • Examining the National Broadband Network non-commercial services funding options for the Government.
  • Creating a platform to provide improved availability and better utilisation of data and information in the communications sector, including the use of Big Data analytics.
  • Working with the Australian Bureau of Statistics on a joint review of Information and Communications Technology statistics to help improve the quality of data available to decision makers. The review helps develop an improved framework for the ongoing assessment of the digital economy.

In 2015, we released the first of a series of primers designed to provide readers with an introduction to basic concepts and methodologies in a number of areas. These included a Cost-benefit analysis primer and A primer on the design and assessment of non-commercial service arrangements. The May 2015 release, A primer on digital productivity, is a key tool for policy officers that looks at the impact of digitisation on productivity, and provides a lead-in to further industry and firm-level analysis.

We have conducted extensive stakeholder engagement with peak bodies, industry, academia, the research community and state and federal government agencies, and hosted a series of stakeholder forums in 2014–15.

An Advisory Committee was created to oversee the Bureau’s strategic research framework and work programme. A Communications Data Working Group was formed to streamline the sourcing of data from industry.

We are developing a framework to assess blockers and enablers in the communications sector. This framework will be applied to selected topics related to digital technologies and communications services.

Early applications include online intermediaries, social media and the internet-of-things. The blockers and enablers project will support the Department’s role in providing strategic advice through research to not only explain developments in digital technologies and communications markets, but also to identify potential areas for policy reform or reassessment.

www.communications.gov.au/what-we-do/bureau-communications-research

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