Vodafone launches legal action over mobile roaming

Telco seeks review of ACCC inquiry on wholesale mobile roaming

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is yet to finalise its decision on whether to regulate domestic mobile roaming, but Vodafone Hutchison Australia has already launched legal action over the issue.

Last month the ACCC issued a draft decision that it would not declare a wholesale mobile roaming service. If a service was to be declared, the ACCC could force telcos such as Telstra to allow rivals, such as Vodafone, to use their mobile network infrastructure.

Vodafone has stridently argued for mobile roaming, which would enable it to offer services in parts of regional Australia that its own network does not cover.

“Australian mobile phone users will continue to pay too much and suffer poor coverage in regional areas” as a result of the ACCC’s draft decision, the telco said in a statement issued today.

Vodafone is seeking judicial review of the ACCC’s inquiry process. The telco yesterday lodged its application with the Federal Court.

“We do not believe the process has been carried out properly because a specific domestic roaming service has not been defined by the ACCC,” the telco said.

“The process is failing consumers because it is too vague.

“The decision on domestic roaming is too important to regional Australia for the inquiry to continue in a flawed way.”

Telstra has slammed the idea of regulated mobile roaming, warning that it could shift network investment away from regional areas if it is introduced. Optus has also opposed the idea. TPG, which this year announced plans to build its own mobile network, supports roaming.

The ACCC recently extended until 16 June the time for interested parties to make submissions on its draft decision.

We are aware of Vodafone's response to the ACCC's draft decision on its domestic roaming inquiry and are currently considering it,” an ACCC spokesperson said.

We have consulted extensively with regional Australia in relation to our draft decision, and the majority of views we received from farmer and other stakeholders groups were not in favour of the ACCC declaring domestic roaming.”

The last telco to take on the ACCC, Telstra, did not fare well. The company was lumped with a hefty legal bill after it unsuccessfully challenged an ACCC decision to cut the prices it could charge rival telcos for a range of wholesale services.

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