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ACCC proposed domestic mobile roaming decision welcomed

WAFarmers has welcomed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) draft decision proposing not to declare a wholesale domestic roaming service, stating that such a service could inhibit much-needed regional telecommunications investment.

Handed down this morning, the draft decision stated that the national retail mobile services market currently exhibits signs of reasonably effective competition, but that the ACCC acknowledged there was often little choice of network for consumers who value geographic coverage.

WAFarmers Executive Officer – Policy (General) Grady Powell said while WAFarmers supported and recognised the importance of competition, a domestic mobile roaming service would not necessarily be the best outcome in allowing for greater market competition.

“Western Australia is a great beneficiary of Telstra assistance through State and Federal funding for black spot programs,” he said.

“While there is nothing currently stopping companies co-locating on one another’s infrastructure, some providers have invested in regional WA more heavily than others.

“While competition and choice is good for consumers and the market, we cannot accept the risk this may bring in terms of jeopardising future investment in regional telecommunications.”

Mr Powell said telecommunications underpin basic communications and facilitate everyday business, with producers requiring reliable connectivity to ensure the smooth running of their operation.

“Technology is becoming so entwined with businesses and social activities, so maintenance of telecommunications infrastructure is critical, as is the responsibility and ownership of it,” he said.

“Any scope for ambiguity has the potential to lead to confusion and loss of service for consumers, which is unacceptable.”

Submissions on the draft decision are due by 2 June, with a final decision to be made in mid-2017.

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