ACCC begins consulting on regulation of mobile terminating access services

7 Aug 2018

A public inquiry has been launched by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) with a view to determining whether to extend, vary or revoke the domestic mobile terminating access service (MTAS) declaration, or whether to make a new declaration.

Announcing the start of the inquiry, the regulator noted that the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 requires it to review the current declaration in the 18 months before it expires on 30 June 2019. Saying that the country’s mobile industry had changed ‘significantly’ since the current declaration was made in 2014, it highlighted the increased use of over-the-top (OTT) services, as well as the introduction of VoLTE and voice-over-Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) calling by all of the nation’s cellcos. The ACCC has suggested the public inquiry will assist it in determining whether the MTAS should remain a ‘declared’, or regulated, service.

Commenting on the matter, ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes was cited as saying: ‘Regulation of wholesale mobile termination has, in the past, helped to lower retail prices for mobile services for the benefit of consumers. This inquiry will consider whether continued regulation is needed to deliver this result … Given the pace of technological change in mobile networks, the ACCC will seek to determine whether the service description remains fit-for-purpose and accurate. We also intend to test what effect the declaration of SMS services in 2014 has had on relevant markets, in particular its impact on consumers.’

Submissions to the inquiry must be made by a 14 September 2018 deadline, and the regulator has said it expects to issue a draft decision for public consultation after the inquiry closes, ahead of making a final decision.