The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has kicked off a public inquiry into whether the domestic mobile terminating access service (MTAS) declaration should be extended, changed or revoked, or if the declaration needs replacing.
The MTAS is a wholesale service regulated by the ACCC that allows users on different mobile networks to make calls or send SMS to each other.
The inquiry aims to help the commission to determine whether the service should remain a “declared” or regulated service.
The ACCC said part of the decision would consider the increased use of ‘over-the-top’ services such as WhatsApp, Messenger or Skype, and the introduction of Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) and Voice over WiFi (VoWiFI) calling by all mobile networks.
“Increasingly, consumers are choosing over-the-top services to make calls and send messages,” ACCC commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.
“These fall outside the MTAS service description and we are interested in knowing whether the ability of consumers to choose these ways of communicating means that declaration of the MTAS is no longer necessary.”
The Competition and Consumer Act of 2010 requires the ACCC to review the current MTAS declaration in the 18 months before it expires on 30 June 2019. Submissions will be accepted up to 14 September.
“Regulation of wholesale mobile termination has, in the past, helped to lower retail prices for mobile services for the benefit of consumers. This inquiry will consider whether continued regulation is needed to deliver this result,” Cifuentes added.
“Given the pace of technological change in mobile networks, the ACCC will seek to determine whether the service description remains fit-for-purpose and accurate. We also intend to test what effect the declaration of SMS services in 2014 has had on relevant markets, in particular its impact on consumers.”