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ACCC kicks off probe into wholesale mobile voice, SMS services regulation

The ACCC has launched 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 allows consumers on different mobile networks to make calls or send SMS to each other. The ACCC regulates the MTAS to ensure that calls can be made between consumers on all mobile phone networks.

The regulator noted that the Australian mobile industry had changed significantly, “even since 2014 when the current declaration was made.”

Changes flagged  included the rising use of ‘over-the-top’ services such as WhatsApp, Messenger or Skype, and the introduction of Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) and Voice over WiFi (VoWiFI) calling by all mobile networks.

The public inquiry, the ACCC said, will help it to determine whether the MTAS should remain a ‘declared’, or regulated, service.

D16 133915 Cristina Cifuentes Corporate Photo (1) - September 2016“Increasingly, consumers are choosing over-the-top services to make calls and send messages. These fall outside the MTAS service description and 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.

“Regulation of wholesale mobile termination has, in the past, helped to lower retail prices for mobile services for the benefit of consumers. This inquiry will consider whether continued regulation is needed to deliver this result,” she said.

“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,” Cifuentes added.

The discussion paper is available at: Mobile terminating access service declaration review – 2018

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