The Australian Communications and Competition Commission (ACCC) has published a final report on its communications sector market study, with this including some 28 recommendations and actions related to competition and consumer issues. The market study examined likely competition and efficiency developments in the communications sector over the next five years, during which time 5G technology is expected to be adopted, while the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout is also scheduled for completion.
Notably, the watchdog said that it had not found ‘any major deficiencies in the current communications regulatory arrangements’, arguing that it remained ‘largely fit for purpose’. Meanwhile, the economic regulatory framework for the communications sector has, the ACCC claimed, ‘proven to be capable of accommodating major changes to the sector, including allowing for appropriate responses during the transition to the NBN’.
With regards to the NBN, the ACCC said that several competition and consumer issues related to the transition to the in-deployment network have emerged, with these requiring ‘immediate measures’ to resolve on the part of both retail service providers (RSPs) and NBN Co, the company overseeing the network construction and management. Some measures are already underway, with what the ACCC called ‘significant progress’ having been made since the publication of its draft report last October. These measures include: the obtaining of eight court-enforceable undertakings from various ISPs on NBN speeds; the commencement of an inquiry into NBN wholesale service standards; and last month’s publication of the first report compiled as part of a broadband performance monitoring and reporting programme.
Meanwhile, with the ACCC noting that the report had found that the markets for broadband and voice services are operating competitively under the current regulatory arrangements, the watchdog’s chairman Rod Sims said: ‘Despite market concentration, competition in the sector is leading to lower prices, greater choice in services and service providers, and bigger inclusions for voice and broadband services on fixed and mobile networks … Competition will increase further as Vodafone expands its NBN footprint and TPG deploys its wireless network, bringing additional choice to consumers in terms of quality and pricing of telecommunications services.’