Telstra and TPG Telecom (TPGT) have asked for ACCC authorisation to share their separately owned spectrum for the delivery of mobile services in a regional coverage zone. As part of the arrangement, Telstra and TPGT will also consolidate their mobile towers and TPGT will gain access to some of Telstra’s coverage.

ACCAN has submitted that these proposed arrangements could benefit people living in the regional coverage zone by improving the quality of existing Telstra mobile services and increasing the choice of mobile providers, noting that TPGT brands include Vodafone, budget telco felix, and resellers such as Lebara. However, we also question aspects of the arrangements and urge the ACCC to closely examine the longer term implications for consumers.

These aspects include:

  • Exclusions from non-discrimination provisions in the deal, including delayed access by TPGT to Telstra’s 5G sites until six months after activation, giving Telstra a first mover advantage.
  • Impact on future pricing and the need for TPGT’s pricing to remain competitively low nationally.
  • The impact on mobile network competition in regional areas, including future investments by Optus and neutral host providers.
  • The concentration of spectrum currently held separately by Telstra and TPGT, which may bypass spectrum ownership limits and consolidate Telstra’s market dominance.
  • The need for improved coverage maps so that consumers can accurately compare the coverage offered by different providers to take advantage of the increased choices on offer.

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