ACCC issues mobile roaming regulation discussion paper

Pigeons, meet cat

Listen carefully, and you can hear the sound of Australian mobile carriers briefing lawyers and competition economists: the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has opened its inquiry into mobile roaming prices.

The stance of the three carriers is already known, since the regulator first said it would launch the inquiry in September: number-three operator Vodafone wants the ACCC the charges regulated, while Telstra and Optus don't.

Regulated roaming would, after all, be of most benefit to Vodafone: its footprint is smaller than the others, which means its customers most often stray into the Telstra or Optus networks.

On the other hand, the ACCC argues announcing the inquiry, regulated roaming would put regional customers on the same footing as city users, in choosing between the three.

The regulator notes that it hasn't taken a look at roaming for 10 years.

The discussion paper asks for input on (from the ACCC's announcement):

  • The current state of competition for mobile services 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.

Submissions are open until 25 November 2016. ®

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