A market study examining a wide range of issues concerning competition and efficiency in communications markets is to be undertaken by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). With the consultation set to involve industry participants and consumers, the ACCC noted it has already held preliminary discussions with a number of stakeholders. Topics to be discussed as part of the market examination include the changing structure of the nation’s communications markets, particularly the transition to a fixed line market in which nbn, the company overseeing the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout, is the wholesale provider to retail service providers. Other matters which the ACCC will look to address are: the issue of consolidation and market concentration in the retail sector; the growth in availability of over-the-top (OTT) services; the exponential growth in the demand for bandwidth and data; and the increased use of mobile data by consumers and the increasing preference for mobile as a way to access the internet.
The market study will consider how these and other changes affect competition, the efficient operation of markets, and investment incentives, and will examine options to address any issues identified, while considering the potential to improve economic regulation where warranted. The ACCC will commence consultation with an issues paper and will release a draft of its findings for comment prior to completing the market study in 2017.
Commenting on the matter, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said: ‘We recognise the communications sector is one that all Australians have an interest in, and one that facilitates economic growth. Importantly, the study will also allow the ACCC to consider a wide range of interrelated issues that have been raised by the sector and that go to the proper functioning of the market … The study will examine the changing landscape and identify any issues preventing the use of innovation and investment to deliver the benefits of competition to consumers.’