Warning on rural mobile
PROPOSED changes could have devastating impact on mobile phone coverage and black spots in regional Tasmania, Telstra has warned.
An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry into mobile roaming is looking at whether Telstra towers should be made available to competitors such as Optus and Vodafone in rural and remote areas.
The ACCC launched a discussion paper in September and a draft decision is expected by early next year.
But Telstra is vehemently opposed, saying the move would prevent investment in regional coverage at a time when it has been rapidly expanding its mobile coverage.
“Regulated roaming would mean our competitors may only have to pay a tiny amount to use a network we have spent billions of dollars building,” a Telstra spokesman said.
He said regulated roaming would not expand mobile coverage at all.
The ACCC previously considered mobile roaming in regional areas in 1998 and 2005.
Telstra said the company had invested heavily in rural and remote areas. In Tasmania, work has started on up to 13 mobile-phone towers in remote areas but none are yet in operation.
Telstra said over the past 10 years, 15 per cent of its investment in the mobile network went the most remote 2 per cent of the population.
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Assocation chief executive Peter Skillern said his organisation’s submission would focus on the need for continued investment.
“There is a risk that if its open slather for all telcos when somebody builds a tower that could take away the incentive to invest,” Mr Skillern said.
“Anything that may prevent investment would not be positive.”
He said black spots were a problem but the TFGA needed to consider the best way of addressing them addressed.
Access to a roaming service would enable mobile-service providers to offer coverage in areas where they don’t have their own network.
The ACCC could also set rates for access.