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Telstra Says ‘No’ To Mobile Roaming – But Sims May Differ

There is no way Telstra will give in easily to calls for the introduction of mobile roaming across Australia, chairman John Mullen has made plain. Speaking at this week’s AGM in Sydney, Mullen said the proposal amounted to offering its competitors a “free ride” on its regional network, by far Australia’s biggest.

(CDN notes there’s been no suggestion of a free ride by Vodafone and others calling for the introduction of mobile roaming – which would allow users of one service to switch to another in areas currently served only by a single operator. Vodafone, for instance, has made it plain that it would pay for its subscribers switching to another service where necessary to maintain a connection).

Said Mullen at this week’s AGM: “Since privatisation, Telstra has spent many billions of shareholder dollars on building one of the world’s largest and best networks ….

“Simplistically, (the Vodafone proposal) is equivalent of an airline wanting to provide services in regional Australia but – instead of investing in its own planes to make seats available – it pushes for regulation to force another airline to reserve half the seats in its planes.”

With ACCC chairman Rod Sims recently announcing plans for an inquiry next year into the roaming proposal, Mullen added: “If the ACCC decides to declare mobile roaming, it will absolutely be at the expense of you, the Telstra shareholders, and it will also be bad for Australians in regional areas.”

Telstra CEO Andy Penn told the AGM that mobile roaming was “a bad idea” that, if introduced, might see future rounds of the Government’s mobile black spot program threatened.

Vodafone chief strategy officer Dan Lloyd has said domestic roaming is already enforced in the USA, Canada, and New Zealand and said there was “no evidence” that it had a negative impact on infrastructure investment in those countries. And Australian telecoms researcher Paul Budde has noted that Telstra already provides mobile roaming to overseas visitors.

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