Vodafone CEO Calls For Telco Reform
Speaking today at the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia, Berroeta stated policy reform is needed to ensure Australians, especially those in regional areas, aren’t left behind, noting the big part mobile technology has “to play in building a productive and truly national digital economy”.
“By optimising the use of next-generation mobility, we can leverage Australia’s strengths in industries such as agriculture, education, transport, health care and tourism,” Berroeta commented.
“For consumers, the introduction of 5G in the next five years will mean a whole new world of communication and convenience. While for businesses, it will open up new opportunities to increase productivity and reduce costs.
“However, in order to truly capture the potential of technology, there are a number of barriers we need to address now to ensure we maximise these opportunities.”
Berroeta stated that lack of innovation and competition in the telecommunications sector “will hold the economy back”.
“Currently in Australia, we have two classes of mobile customers – those with access to coverage and choice of provider in metropolitan areas, and those without in many regional and rural areas,” he commented.
“The cost of lack of competition in the telco market across Australia is $3.1 billion each year. That’s $3.1 billion which could be driving growth, but instead it’s threatening the government’s worthy aspirations of a world-leading digital economy.”
Berroeta stated that while Vodafone is encouraged that the government “is starting to recognise the importance of increasing competition as well as coverage” via such initiatives as the mobile black spot program, he added that more needs to be done.
“Vodafone urges the government to prioritise reform of the Universal Service Obligation which currently sees around $300 million in taxpayer money each year spent on preserving outdated voice services and preventing competition by increasing the dominance of one player,” he commented.
A Vodafone-commissioned report into Australia’s communications structure was released in June, raising a number of issues, with Vodafone director of strategy and corporate affairs Dan Lloyd stating at the time that it had “highlighted a commitment to real and rapid change in telecommunications policy in Australia is required”.