Thursday, 02 November 2017 02:25

ACCC's cautious 5G welcome sees competition issues flagged Featured

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The ACCC says it is "rethinking the way it approaches spectrum competition issues ahead of the upcoming 5G auction".

At the RadComms conference in Sydney today, ACCC chairman Rod Sims "urged government to take a long-term, consumer-centric approach to spectrum allocations".

At the conference, Sims said: “Traditionally, the ACCC has sought to prevent dominance of spectrum by any one licensee in particular bands. However, we are rethinking this approach.

“Instead, and this is a key point, we want to consider spectrum holdings holistically rather than in particular bands."

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Sims continued: ”Companies put a value on preventing their competitors or potential competitors getting access to spectrum. This means that a large part of the value of spectrum is actually in reducing competition.

“I do not want to see some players, particularly a new mobiles entrant, prevented from competing with incumbents because they cannot get access to sufficient spectrum.”

He also "urged government to look beyond the budget bottom line when auctioning spectrum," and stated: "The value of spectrum lies in the economic and social benefits it can provide to citizens and consumers, not in financial returns to the Budget.”

In addition, Sims foreshadowed the competition challenges of 5G, which "could be a substitute for fixed networks".

He said: “5G allows wireless broadband services at gigabit speeds, the ability to connect large numbers of devices and objects which would facilitate the Internet of Things, and the ability to provide a number of discrete fit for purpose networks rather than general purpose networks.

“The Internet of Things will present mobile network operators with incentives for deployment, including in regional Australia.

“As the role of mobile networks stretches beyond providing communications between people, to providing connectivity to millions of devices and objects, the business cases for network deployment will no longer be restricted to where people live and travel.

“Increasingly, the need for data to support businesses will justify new investments.

“The ACCC will closely monitor whether our regulatory settings promote interconnection between networks, particularly between smaller fixed networks and larger mobile networks, and provide incentives for investing in regional mobile coverage.

“We want the full benefits of 5G to be realised, and we want these benefits to be realised by all Australians through a competitive market.”

Sims' full speech can be read here


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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