Unwired joins ISP-level filtering pilot

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Unwired joins ISP-level filtering pilot

Fixed wireless telecommunications Internet Service Provider (ISP) Unwired is set to become the ninth confirmed ISP to participate in the Australian Governments controversial ISP-level filtering pilot.

In a recent grant reporting document uploaded to the Department for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) website, Unwired has been revealed as the ninth ISP to participate in the governments ISP-level content filtering pilot.

Receiving a grant of only $1,870, Unwired will receive the lowest grant amongst other ISPs receiving funding, with Optus funding the pilot of their own bat.

The document, current as at 29 May 2009, reveals that on Friday May 22 the government granted Unwired $1,870 to fund an ISP-level content filtering pilot under the governments $125.8 million Cyber-Safety Plan.

What makes Unwired's funding different to other ISPs involved is that it has been given until July 31 to spend its grant money, whereas other ISPs have been given until June 30. This may indicate that the government is looking to extend its filtering trials until late next month.

David Havyatt, Unwired's Manager of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, confirmed to iTnews that Unwired has been accepted into the filtering pilot.

"We're at the point of being ready to invite customers to participate, we haven't actually started yet," he said.

When asked how much Unwired was given in terms of grant money, he was unfamiliar with the figure of $1,870.

"I don't know the details of how much we've been given," he stated.

Havyatt said Unwired applied for funding at the same time as all other ISPs and was not entirely sure as to why the ISP was picked so much later in the process.

"As the Minister made [very] clear, they [The Government] just worked through the applications in order and the ones that were relatively uncomplicated, or whatever, they proceeded with," he said. "We just happened to happened to have got to the point to agreeing with the department about the terms of our participation."

Havyatt said he preferred not to go into details as to what funding Unwired sought in its submission.

"The process was that if you wanted to participate in the trial you put together your proposal including a request for some funding that you might require," he said. "Most of that, as the Minister has made clear to many people, wasn't actually about buying upgrades for ISPs, it was only about the necessary extra costs you were going to incur."

Havyatt said Unwired will only be testing a certain sample of their customers in Sydney and Melbourne.

Those customers would not be required to participate in the live pilot if they don't wish to.

Like many other participating ISPs, Unwired's participation in the pilot does not equate to their support for a filtered internet.

"We think that the best way forward is to build some evidence based policy," Havyatt said.

"All the Minister has announced so far is that he wants to run a trial on how network based filters work, lets build that first and then work out the rest of the debate."

A spokesperson for the DBCDE told iTnews that Unwired was chosen to take part in the trial because it is an "innovative player in the Australian internet market."

"Its participation in the pilot will help ensure the Government obtains robust results to inform the evidence-based development of our ISP filtering policy," the spokesperson said.

The Government is also "working constructively with Telstra on the technical testing of ISP filtering technologies," the spokesperson said. 

"These tests [with Telstra] do not involve actual customers and therefore are not being conducted as part of the pilot, however it is hoped that the results will feed into the Government's policy considerations."

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