The Australian Competitiion and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released a statement of preliminary views on the authorisation sought by Telstra and TPG for their proposed regional mobile network arrangements. The ACCC is calling for further submissions and looks forward to hearing from stakeholders about its preliminary views.
Telstra and TPG are asking the ACCC to provide authorisation for the deemed acquisition of certain TPG spectrum, which is tied to three interrelated network agreements that are being considered together.
Under these agreements, Telstra would obtain much of TPG’s mobile spectrum in a range of outer-suburban and regional areas, where about 17 per cent of Australians live. Telstra would also obtain 169 of TPG’s mobile sites in that area.
TPG would then shut down its remaining 556 mobile sites in those areas and acquire mobile network services from Telstra for mobile coverage.
“The ACCC has today set out issues for further consideration, and is calling for further views from industry and consumers on how these agreements may impact competition and whether there are public benefits,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said.
“Mobile companies compete in terms of the infrastructure and spectrum they have, as the infrastructure and spectrum impacts on coverage and speed which are important to customers. We are assessing how the proposed infrastructure and spectrum arrangements between TPG and Telstra will change the incentives and ability of Telstra, TPG, Optus, and other market participants to compete and to invest in mobile service infrastructure.”
“There is still a lot of work to do on this complicated and nuanced review, which is of critical importance to competition in the mobile telecommunication sector. At this stage we have not reached any overall conclusions, but welcome further submissions from stakeholders and consumers alike on the issues raised,” Ms Carver said.
“We are looking extremely closely at all aspects of these agreements, as a decision either way can have significant long term effects.”
The ACCC can only grant authorisation if it is satisfied in all the circumstances that either there is not a likely substantial lessening of competition, or that there is likely to be public benefits that outweigh any public detriments.
The ACCC’s final decision on whether to grant authorisation to Telstra and TPG will likely be announced in early December.