ACCC to review mobile phone industry

Australia's competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), today launched a wide-ranging review into regulation of mobile phone services.

A discussion paper has been released covering wholesale mobile services, domestic and international roaming issues, and emerging third-generation (3G) services.

ACCC telecommunications commissioner responsible for telecommunications Ross Jones said the review is an opportunity to examine "the extent and need for regulation in the mobile services industry".

Jones said the watchdog was particularly interested in whether it should continue to regulate the pricing of the wholesale mobile termination service, used to provide fixed-to-mobile and mobile-to-mobile calls.

For instance, in the case of a mobile-to-mobile call, when a customer on Vodafone's mobile network calls someone on a Telstra network, Vodafone purchases wholesale access to Telstra's service.

"The pricing of the wholesale mobile termination service has been a major issue in Europe, where regulators have taken a much more direct role in setting prices than the ACCC," he said.

"This issue is of particular concern as the prices consumers pay to make calls from a fixed line phone to somebody on a mobile phone have remained fairly static, while the prices for other fixed line services like national and international long distance calls have fallen considerably."

Jones said the ACCC considered the regulation of international intercarrier roaming to be particularly important as well as the impact of regulation on third-generation mobile services.

The closing date for submissions is June 13, 2003.

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