The ACCC is undertaking a inquiry to determine whether the difference in geographic coverage provided by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone is having a negative effect on competition for mobile services, and whether requiring mobile roaming would be in the long-term interests of consumers.
Mobile roaming is where a mobile network operator uses (or roams onto) the mobile network of another mobile network operator (the host mobile network) so that the first operator can provide mobile services to consumers outside of its own network coverage area.
For example, a mobile roaming service allows a customer of Vodafone's to access Optus’ mobile network when travelling to a location outside Vodafone's mobile network coverage. Vodafone would pay Optus for receiving access to the Optus network in the visited area. In our submission, ACCAN does not support mobile roaming at this point in time, as it may not benefit consumers overall. Other options should be examined that may support competition, while encouraging investment in mobile networks. These include:
- open-access roaming and stronger co-location requirements that may be appropriate as a condition of future government-subsidised programs to improve mobile coverage
- the ACCC continue to monitor issues affecting mobile coverage, such as the backhaul transmission and co-location on existing mobile sites
- more transparency in advertising about coverage provided by Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
- Mobile Network Operators provide updated coverage data to the ACCC on a regular basis.