A discussion paper has been released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) as part of its inquiry into whether to declare a wholesale domestic mobile roaming service. The regulator is seeking views on a number of issues it says are relevant to determining whether to declare the service, including: the current state of competition in the wireless market and whether there are barriers to extending mobile networks in regional Australia; the effect that declaring a mobile roaming service may have upon competition; the extent and nature of investment which has taken place in mobile networks since the last declaration inquiry; the effect a declaration may have on mobile network operators’ incentives to invest in extending and improving their networks; and the importance of geographic coverage for consumers and mobile service providers’ ability to compete.
Commenting on the matter, ACCC chairman Rod Sims was cited as saying: ‘Mobile coverage and choice of service provider are important issues for Australians, particularly those living in regional, rural and remote areas. This inquiry will explore the extent to which domestic mobile roaming would promote competition among providers and its effect on investment in mobile infrastructure … This inquiry provides an opportunity to reconsider this issue considering the present state of the market, the development of mobile networks since the last inquiry over ten years ago, and current and future consumer needs for connectivity.’
Submission in response to the discussion paper are being accepted until 25 November 2016, with the ACCC saying it expects to release a draft decision in early 2017, ahead of a final decision in the first half of that year.