MTAS is a wholesale service which mobile network operators offer each other so that voice calls and SMS by consumers which originate on different networks can be connected.
The ACCC regulates the MTAS to ensure that calls can be made between consumers on all mobile phone networks, and says it is undertaking the inquiry as the Australian mobile industry has changed significantly, even since 2014, when the current declaration was made.
The competition watchdog says changes include the increase in the use of "over-the-top" services such as WhatsApp, Messenger or Skype, and the introduction of Voice over Long Term Evolution and Voice over Wi-Fi calling by all mobile networks.
“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.”
Cifuentes said that 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.”
To access the ACCC's discussion paper on MTAS — Mobile terminating access service declaration review 2018 — click here.