ACCC kicks off review into voice and SMS mobile pricing regulation | Top Stories
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has kicked off a consultation into whether to continue regulating the service allowing consumers to send and receive calls and messages between mobile phone networks, citing the high use of over-the-top (OTT) services.
According to the ACCC, its domestic mobile terminating access service (MTAS) declaration may need to be amended or revoked because the mobile industry has “changed significantly” since 2014.
“Among the most significant changes are the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN), closure of 2G mobile networks and increased investment in 4G/LTE networks, forthcoming deployment of 5G mobile networks, and the imminent entry of a new MNO, TPG Telecom,” the ACCC explains in its discussion paper.
“Other developments include the continuing growth of OTT services, and the current pricing of retail mobile services, including calls and SMS.”
According to the ACCC, OTT services are not yet considered as full voice substitutes due to the inability to make emergency calls or call 1800/1300 numbers, but the consumer watchdog said “the use of OTT services may reduce the need for SMS regulation to continue”.
With TPG also not planning to initially offer traditional voice calls across its new mobile network, launching later this year, this could also be a “strong indication” of the preference for OTT services, the ACCC noted.
The ACCC is seeking feedback on what percentage of voice traffic is now voice over LTE (VoLTE) and voice over Wi-Fi; what kind of voice calls and SMSes require termination access; who can provide the MTAS; and whether the current service description is technologically neutral, fit for purpose, addresses the “issue of monopoly power”, and encourages the provision of “innovative services”.
It is also asking for submissions on whether smaller carriers have problems reaching commercial arrangements to terminate voice calls on larger networks, and whether they would have enough market power to reach commercial arrangements without regulation; what percentage of SMS traffic is carried by what technology; whether there are wholesale and retail substitutes for voice call and SMS termination; how the ACCC’s previous MTAS declaration has impacted competition; whether a continued MTAS declaration would promote competition; and whether MTAS rate reductions have been passed down to consumers.
The ACCC is accepting submissions until September 14.
“We are interested in knowing whether the ability of consumers to choose these ways of communicating means that declaration of the MTAS is no longer necessary,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said on Tuesday.
“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.”
The ACCC had last announced a public inquiry into the MTAS in May 2014 after a lengthy review into the service, with the consumer watchdog revealing its intention to regulate SMS pricing for the first time.
In August 2015, the ACCC then published its final decision, saying that mobile network operators can charge each other and fixed-line network operators 1.7 cents per minute for calls, and 0.03 cents per SMS. That decision holds until June 2019.
The rate to be charged for calls was reduced by more than half — costing Telstra hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue — from 3.6 cents per minute, with the ACCC saying it had based its decision on comparative charges around the world.
At the time, Cifuentes had said this price could drop even further once VoLTE services were rolled out.
Both Telstra and Vodafone Australia had objected to the regulation of SMS pricing.
ACCC hopes to fine companies ninefold for misleading consumers
New legislation being considered by Australian Parliament would increase fines from AU$1.1 million to AU$10 million for companies that engage in misleading or deceptive conduct.
ACCC on keeping the data ‘genie’ in check for Australian consumers
ACCC chairman believes the new Consumer Data Right will enable consumers to benefit from the data businesses already hold.
ACCC takes legal action against Amaysim’s Click Energy
Click Energy’s advertising is ‘among the worst practices we see in retail electricity’, the ACCC has said about the Amaysim brand.
ACCC needs AU$6m more to monitor NBN fixed-wireless speeds
Another AU$6 million in government funding is needed to extend the ACCC’s speed-monitoring reports to fixed-wireless services in order to cover the cost of obtaining 4,000 more devices and the managed services involved.
ACCC: Australians lost over AU$2.1m to cryptocurrency-related scams in 2017
A report from Australia’s consumer watchdog found many locals got caught up in ‘pyramid’ cryptocurrency schemes last year, hoping to capitalise on the ‘success’ of bitcoin.
MyRepublic worst and Aussie Broadband best at delivering NBN download speed promises: ACCC
The ACCC has labelled Aussie Broadband and MyRepublic ‘book ends’ of NBN’s retailers, with the former winning and the latter losing across providing maximum download speeds and TPG, iiNet, Optus, and Telstra spread out between them.
Hiring kit: Android developer (Tech Pro Research)
Companies are increasingly dependent on mobile platforms to power their business operations and to enable a productive workforce – and that means hiring top-notch developers to build the apps they need.