Tuesday, 07 August 2018 12:02

ACCC opens inquiry into mobile voice, SMS services

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ACCC opens inquiry into mobile voice, SMS services Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has started an inquiry into regulation of wholesale mobile voice and SMS services – and whether to vary or revoke the domestic mobile terminating access service declaration or to make a new declaration.

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.

And, the ACCC says the public inquiry will assist it to determine whether the MTAS should remain a "declared", or regulated, service.

“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.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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