Australian mobile carriers that offer domestic inter-carrier roaming (domestic roaming) on second generation CDMA mobile networks will be required to provide the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission with details of the terms and conditions they charge for this service, following a final decision made by the ACCC today.
Domestic roaming is a wholesale service sold by one mobile network carrier to another. Mobile carriers can use this service to enable their subscribers to make and receive mobile phone calls in areas where they do not have network coverage by using (or 'roaming' on to) another carrier's network.
The decision to monitor the terms and conditions upon which domestic roaming services are provided on CDMA mobile networks follows a final decision by the ACCC not to declare a domestic roaming service.
"The ACCC's inquiry found that roaming has a number of benefits", said an ACCC Commissioner, Mr Ed Willett. "At this point in time, however, the ACCC is not convinced that these benefits can't be achieved in the absence of declaration of this service.
"This is particularly the case with regard to the provision of the service on GSM mobile networks where most purchasers of this service appear content with their ability to acquire the service on reasonable terms and conditions.
"However, following release of its inquiry draft decision in October 2004, the ACCC has become aware of complaints and concerns within some quarters of the industry with respect to the provision of domestic roaming services on CDMA mobile networks.
"CDMA mobile networks are particularly important for rural and remote consumers, where this form of network technology is popular among consumers. Telstra is the only mobile network operator with a nationwide CDMA mobile network.
"The ACCC has therefore reached a view that while it is not appropriate to more intrusively regulate the provision of domestic roaming services at this point in time, it will formally monitor the provision of the service on CDMA mobile networks in the future.
"After considering the views of interested parties in response to the ACCC’s Draft Decision, the ACCC has decided it will not extend its monitoring to include provision of domestic roaming on GSM networks due to the more favourable competitive conditions that appear to be evident in the market for this service".
The ACCC has issued a draft of its proposed record-keeping rule for public comment. Interested parties have until 28 January 2005 to provide comments to the ACCC.
Given Telstra is the only provider of a CDMA domestic roaming service at present, these rules will only apply to Telstra at this point in time.
Copies of the ACCC's final report and draft record-keeping rule can be obtained from the ACCC website(see below).
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