This morning, the ACCC announced its draft decision to not declare a wholesale domestic mobile roaming service.
In assessing the merits of a mobile roaming declaration, it’s important to consider the needs of rural and regional Australians and the economic trade-offs those needs entail.
In making this decision the ACCC has sought to balance the importance of preserving commercial incentives to invest in regional infrastructure, with ensuring competitive pressure supports efficient operation of the mobile market.
The ACCC identified serious concerns that a roaming declaration may dilute incentives for companies to invest in infrastructure and mobile coverage in the bush.
This would not be in the interests of rural and regional Australia.
An important feature of the Australian mobile market is that robust competition in metropolitan areas and uniform geographical pricing restrains the ability of Telstra to charge higher prices to regional customers. This highlights the importance of exercising great caution with the use of regulatory levers.
Labor will be reviewing today’s draft decision closely and will await final determination.
There remain serious ongoing challenges providing equity and access in regional communications. The regulator will have an ongoing role to play in monitoring and responding as appropriate.
Consumers remain Labor’s policy core. Labor will always work with all relevant stakeholders to formulate sensible policy in the long-term interests of consumers.
The role of the Turnbull Government’s failures in creating the conditions that aggravated existing regulatory tensions on this issue cannot be understated.
This Government’s haste and incompetence in locking-down an inappropriate commercial co-location framework for 500 taxpayer funded Mobile Black Spot towers threw fuel onto an issue that didn’t need to be fanned.
Malcolm Turnbull and the Nationals had the opportunity to get the Black Spot program right, but like everything else they have made a mess of it.
Just like when they sold out the bush on the privatisation of Telstra, the Nationals have again sold out to Malcolm Turnbull on the rollout of a second-rate NBN.
Malcolm Turnbull's hypocrisy on rural and remote broadband access is legendary. He went from opposing Labor's NBN satellites as "wasteful spending" to lauding them as a "game changer". Now he's stuffing up the satellite connection service and letting down rural and regional consumers.
Only Labor understands that all Australians deserve access to quality voice and data communications regardless of where they live or work.