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Does a wireless Link require carrier license? by Mike Everest

 Q: One of my clients wants to setup a wireless link between their office and two nearby houses (which they operate as a youth accommodation service) so they can get rid of the multiple ADSL connections and upgrade to a single 16Mbit Metro Ethernet connection. Am I correct in thinking that they don’t need a carrier license because they’re not selling Internet over the WiFi, just providing it to other sites within the same organisation?

A: This is a bit of a tricky one ;)

Carrier licence is required to provide a ‘carriage service’ to third parties.  A third party is essentially a commercial customer, regardless of whether that customer pays a fee for that service.  A good test to determine whether it is a third party or not would be whether you want to allow access to internal intranet and file server data, printers etc to that other party.

In the case that you describe, the wireless link would not be considered a carriage service if it were used exclusively for ‘internal’ purposes, like access for administrative staff to database systems, intranet data, VOIP services etc.

As soon as the wireless link - or any other kind of data/comms link (the rules are the same for cable links too! ;) – is used by some other person or entity, then it becomes a carriage service and requires carrier license.

Here are some examples of use that would require carrier license:

  1. A telephone extension of the private VOIP service is offered to tenants/guests to use for private purposes – free of charge or otherwise (if the extension was provided /only/ for tenants to communicate with admin staff on official business, or only internal calls, then it can probably be argued that it is NOT a carriage service)
  2. The wireless link is used to deliver general internet access to tenants/guests regardless of whether it is offered free or not, and regardless of whether it is made available by WiFi, Ethernet, or public access PC
  3. There is a web server or other internet service connected live to internet accessible by public third parties and used to host information, service or application on behalf of third party entity – for example, your client allows a local school group to use their web server to publish information about a special school project or program.

Sorry about the /long/ answer, but this question is not always cut/dried, black/white – it is often misunderstood, and there is a lot of misinformation around!

If my comments above do not offer you a relatively clear answer to your question, you are welcome to ask more questions! :)


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