ACCC’s Mobile Decision Causes a Mixed Reaction

The issue of mobile phone reception and access in regional and remote areas is now firmly back on the agenda following the ACCC’s rejection of wholesale mobile roaming for the phone reception

Maranoa MP David Littleproud, a key advocate of the plan, says he’s disappointed with the ACCC’s draft decision, proposing to not declare a wholesale domestic mobile roaming and says he will not be backing down on improving mobile coverage and competition for the people of Maranoa.

He’s now been joined by the State Government who are pushing for more Federal Government investment in mobile coverage across the regions.

Mr Littleproud says what we’ve got isn’t working.

“Throughout the Domestic Roaming Inquiry, mobile network operators, particularly Telstra and Optus, maintained that if roaming were regulated it would threaten their investment plans in rural Australia. “

“The ACCC said in its draft decision it has insufficient evidence – with key information being commercial-in-confidence – that a declaration will improve the current state of competition overall so I’m calling on Telstra, Optus and Vodafone to lay their rural investment plans in Maranoa on the table.”

Mr Littleproud says most people in Maranoa are Telstra customers, because there’s no other choice, and that’s completely unacceptable.

AgForce however has welcomed the decision from ACCC, saying the move in their opinion would have stifled longer term investment in a more robust network for the bush.

AgForce telecommunications committee chair Georgie Somerset says that in many areas of Queensland, there is unreliable phone coverage or no coverage at all, and AgForce believes that increasing overall coverage must be the priority.

Forcing mobile network operators to share their existing networks with competitors wasn’t going to bring about the increased ongoing investment needed to provide consumers with extended coverage.”

The State Government has also weighed in, and has called for the Turnbull Government to deliver on its funding commitment to improve mobile phone coverage in Queensland’s rural and remote communities.

Agriculture Minister and Minister for Rural Economic Development Bill Byrne says the lack of reliable communications is a crucial issue in rural areas.

“There is no doubt that lack of coverage is seriously hampering the ability of producers in some areas to use the latest technologies.”