The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has proposed to cease the regulation of wholesale mobile SMS services, citing increased competition from messaging services like iMessage and WhatsApp, as well as telcos offering unlimited SMS plans.
The commission submitted a draft report for consultation to extend a service that regulates wholesale voice services for another five years, while ceasing the service regulating wholesale SMS.
The service, called Mobile Terminating Access Service (MTAS), allows consumers on different mobile networks to make calls or send SMS to each other. It is provided by a mobile network operator, which connects or ‘terminates’ a call or SMS on its network. The network originating the call (whether fixed or mobile) pays the network receiving the call or SMS.
The ACCC has regulated the MTAS since 2014 to ensure calls can be made and SMS can be sent between consumers on all mobile phone networks. It is set to expire on 30 June 2019.
“Many consumers with smartphones are now using over-the-top messaging services such as iMessage and WhatsApp as alternatives to SMS. Importantly, we have also found that the majority of mobile plans now on offer in the market offer unlimited SMS,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.
“Our decision to regulate SMS appears to have had the desired effect. We are therefore proposing to remove regulation of MTAS for SMS services as we do not think continued regulation is necessary to promote competition.”
Sims added that over-the-top (OTT) voice services like Skype and VoIP are not yet substitutes for mobile voice calls.
“[OTT voice services] do not offer the same quality or access to services such as Triple Zero. We are therefore proposing to continue declaration of MTAS for voice services,” Sims said.
The ACCC is inviting interested stakeholders to provide a submission to the draft report by 31 May 2019.