ACCC to conduct public inquiry into regional mobile tower access

31 Mar 2022

A public inquiry into access to regional mobile towers and the feasibility of providing mobile roaming during natural disasters or other emergencies is to be conducted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), at the request of the Australian Government. In a press release regarding the matter, communications minister Paul Fletcher said that the recent ‘2021 Regional Telecommunications Review’ had noted strong progress but highlighted issues that need to be further addressed. ‘In that context, we want to make sure that the current settings for providing access to mobile towers are fit-for-purpose,’ Minister Fletcher said, adding: ‘The ACCC will call for submissions from a range of parties, including the organisations that provide towers and associated infrastructure, and the organisations that use the towers to provide services to Australians.’

The inquiry will look at the costs of providing towers and associated infrastructure, including land access, and how these translate into the fee structures for firms interested in accessing towers to provide mobile and other wireless services. It will also look at the factors that are important for industry in deciding whether to invest in towers and provide better mobile coverage.

With the ACCC to commence the inquiry by 1 July 2022, it must report within twelve months. As part of the process, the regulator will be required to publish a draft report and seek submissions on that before providing a final report to the Minister.