ACCC commences inquiry into access to mobile networks

27 May 2013

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has commenced a public inquiry to decide whether to extend, vary or revoke the domestic mobile terminating access service (MTAS) declaration, or whether to make a new declaration.

The MTAS is a wholesale service that mobile network operators offer each other so that calls on different networks can be connected. It is provided by a mobile network operator when they connect a call on its network. The network originating the call (whether fixed or mobile) pays the network receiving the call (or terminating the call) for the MTAS.

The originating network will recover the costs of the MTAS in the retail price it charges its customers for providing the call. The ACCC regulates the MTAS to ensure that calls can be made to consumers on all mobile phone networks.

There have been several changes in the Australian mobiles industry since 2009, when the current declaration was made. The public inquiry will assist the ACCC to determine whether the MTAS should remain a declared service.

“Network quality and performance have become important considerations for consumers choosing a mobile provider. This inquiry will examine the impact of changes to the wholesale termination services and whether regulation is needed to ensure that consumers can connect with other networks,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

Submissions are being sought on:

  • Whether there are now any substitute services for the MTAS or fixed to mobile calls, particularly considering the development of voice over IP services (VoIP) and changes in consumer behaviour
  • Whether continued declaration of the MTAS will still promote competition in the relevant markets
  • Whether continued declaration will promote the efficient use of and investment in infrastructure, particularly considering increases in data usage and network sharing arrangements
  • Whether SMS and MMS should also be declared, and
  • Whether voice services provided over 4G/LTE networks should be covered by the MTAS service description.

The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 requires the ACCC to review the current MTAS declaration before it expires in June 2014.

The discussion paper is available at Mobile Terminating Access Service declaration review - 2013

Submissions are invited by 5 July 2013. A draft decision is expected to be issued for public consultation before a final decision is announced.

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