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Regulated Roaming “Undermines” Telstra’s $1 Billion Regional Expansion

Regulated Roaming “Undermines” Telstra’s $1 Billion Regional Expansion

A proposal currently under consideration by the ACCC that could see mobile phone companies “piggyback” onto the Telstra network in regional areas would put up to $1 billion of future investments at risk, the company said.

Telstra announced at its investor meeting yesterday that it will direct 15% of investments in mobile network infrastructure to the most remote 2% of the country. Over the next four to five years, the company will invest $350 million in regional base stations and new technology, $240 million into the federal government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme and up to $200 million for regional co-investments.

“If Australia ends up with regulated mobile roaming, the real losers will be regional communities who want more coverage,” Telstra’s group managing director of networks Mike Wright said in a blog post.

“That’s because forcing Telstra to allow other companies – who have decided not to invest over a number of years to deliver more coverage to their customers – to piggyback on our network infrastructure and spectrum undermines the business case for all these investments. We don’t want that to happen and we don’t believe regional communities do either,” Wright said.

Optus has also declared it does not support changes to existing legislation, while Vodafone, with a smaller network than both Telstra and Optus, has been critical Telstra’s response to potential change.

“Much of the rhetoric is based on threats of reduced investment in regional areas – a tactic aimed at creating fear and uncertainty,” Vodafone CEO Iñaki Berroeta said last month.

“There is no basis to these threats and there is no evidence internationally that regulated domestic roaming reduces investment,” Berroeta said.

The ACCC is accepting submissions on domestic mobile roaming until November 25, and expects to release a draft decision in early 2017. More information can be found on the online consultation hub.

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