ACCC opts not to declare domestic mobile roaming

24 Oct 2017

Domestic mobile roaming services will not be declared, the Australian Consumer and Competition Committee (ACCC) has confirmed. In announcing its decision on the matter, the regulator did, however, reveal that it has identified ‘a range of regulatory and policy measures that could improve inadequate mobile phone coverage and poor quality of service in regional Australia’.

Commenting on the decision, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said: ‘The ACCC’s inquiry found that declaration would likely not lead to lower prices or better coverage or quality of services for regional Australians.’ As part of its inquiry, the ACCC was said to have carefully examined competition in the mobile sector, and the incentives of the nation’s mobile operators to make investments to expand coverage and improve their respective infrastructure, particularly in regional areas. With regards to this side of the study, Mr Sims added: ‘Declaration could actually harm the interests of consumers by undermining the incentives of mobile operators to make investments to compete with each other in regional areas.’

Meanwhile, in publishing its ‘Measures to address regional mobile issues’ paper, the ACCC highlighted three main issues that had been raised during the declaration inquiry, and proposed a number of actions to improve outcomes for regional mobile users. According to the watchdog there is a need for better transparency about network coverage, quality, expansions and improvements so that consumers can make informed decisions. In addition, the ACCC has suggested that measures to reduce the costs of deploying and improving mobile networks can be improved, while it is looking to ensure that competition issues are taken into account to when making decisions about significant spectrum allocations. The ACCC has said it will act on those issues and actions proposed in the paper, and ‘actively encourages industry and governments to do the same’, and it aims to provide ‘regular’ updates on its progress.