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Optus Urges ACCC To Block Telstra/TPG Deal

Optus has urged the ACCC to block a decade-long network sharing agreement between Telstra and TPG Telecom, arguing that it will cause a 5G monopoly in great swathes of regional Australia.

The proposed deal means that Telstra will gain access to TPG’s 4G and 5G spectrum, and 169 mobile sites. TPG will, in turn, access 3,700 Telstra cellular towers, bumping its 4G coverage to 98.8 per cent of Australians.

TPG will decommission 725 mobile sites, allowing for better access for customers of both telcos.

“This additional spectrum will mean that all Telstra customers will continue to experience Australia’s best and fastest network across the country, in combined 4G and 5G speeds,” explained Telstra CEO Andy Penn late last month.

“In particular, the spectrum agreement will ensure that regional and rural customers will now. experience faster speeds in more locations on their mobiles.”

Andy Penn, Telstra.

Optus, not surprisingly, sees things differently.

“The partnership overturns 30 years of competition policy by eliminating one of Telstra’s competitors and seriously placing Telstra’s main competitor, Optus, at a disadvantage,” Andrew Sheridan, Optus’ vice president of regulatory and public affairs, said.

“We believe the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) should consider consumers’ best interests in their decision and block this arrangement for the benefit of regional Australians.”

“An alternative network provider … means that our regional communities have back-up options if one provider’s network succumbs to extreme weather, disaster or power failure. Thankfully, today we have those back-up options. But all of this is being put at risk by the partnership proposed by Telstra and TPG.”

“The proposed partnership should be of major concern to government, our regulators, and regional communities. There is no other industry where a combination of the first and third largest players would be considered.”

The ACCC has 90 days to oppose the deal.

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