Telco coalition launches new challenge to ‘big three’

Commpete seeks to offer stronger voice for smaller telcos

The Competitive Carriers Coalition today formally relaunched as ‘Commpete’ with the aim of challenging the market dominance of Telstra and Australia’s other major telcos.

The relaunched coalition has set a goal of growing the market share of “challenger sector” companies in the fixed-line and mobile telecommunications outside of the ‘big three’ of Telstra, Optus and TPG to 30 per cent.

The alliance currently comprises eight telcos: Amaysim, InABox, Macquarie Telecom, MNF Group, MyRepublic, Southern Phones, TasmaNet and Vocus.

Michelle Lim, GM industry and government relations at MNF Group, has been named Commpete chairperson.

Lim said that the roll out of the National Broadband Network had yet to lead to a significant change in Telstra’s share of the broadband market.

“We are only two years from the end of the NBN rollout, and time is running out,” she said in remarks prepared for the CommsDay Summit in Sydney.

“For those of us who believe in real competition, this is a very worrying trend,” Lim said.

“The bottom line is in a competition sense, we’ve spent all this time and money - not to mention the opportunity cost for this nation - yet have achieved precisely, in competition terms, nothing.

“Year after year after year – no change.”

Lim said that given the impending rollout of 5G services in Australia it was important to get regulatory settings right. It’s important that the “critical role” of MVNOs in advancing competition is recognised, Macquarie Telecom CEO David Tudehope told a press briefing.

The government and NBN have tended to focus on the needs and interests of the ‘big three’, CommPete argues.

“At the moment we feel that innovation is being stifled a bit and that means consumers are missing out because we don’t get a seat on the table; we’re not able to talk directly to the likes of the NBN, the government,” said MyRepublic’s managing director, Nicolas Demos.

“If nothing changes Telstra will remain with over 50 per cent share of the [fixed-line broadband] market – that is a failure of competition on one of the single biggest forced migration events in Australian telco history,” said Amaysim CEO Julian Ogrin.

“We think there’s still an opportunity for the government and for the industry to really address this quickly so we can get, say, 12 per cent of service providers outside of the incumbents to get up towards 30 per cent of market share,” the CEO said.

Damian Kaye, CEO of telco reseller InABox, said that the smaller retail service providers (RSPs) that comprise his customers were getting squeezed out. The CEO gave as an example the conditions around NBN’s discount scheme for 50Mbps services.

“It was really designed for the ‘big three’, or big four – we really struggled with it because if we were to participate it would have cost us $9 million in marketing funds and our commitment to get access to that pricing and discounts would have been 90,000 services a month,” Kaye said.

Commpete is about having a “louder and united voice,” the CEO said.

MNF Group CEO Rene Sugo said that a recent prime minister’s roundtable on NBN only included representation from NBN and the big four telcos.

“Unless we start banging the drum and banding together to get our voice heard, we’re simply going to be ignored from a regulatory and policy framework perspective,” the CEO said.

Communications minister Senator Mitch Fifield as a “top three informed view,” Sugo said. “He’s not coming down to our level and understanding our issues and that’s really why we need to get together as Commpete and have a stronger voice.”

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Tags Telecommunicationscompetitive carriers coalitionCommpete

More about AustraliaMacquarie TelecomMNF GroupMyRepublicOptus

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