The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last week announced plans to undertake a major study of the Australian communications sector. Through the study the ACCC proposes to research and better understand how current technological developments and emerging trends are impacting on the sector, including by consulting broadly with both industry and consumers. The market study will examine how issues of competition, market efficiency and investment incentives are playing out in the rapidly evolving industry.

In announcing the study, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims highlighted technological developments, structural change, product innovation, and changing consumer preferences as factors contributing to the rapid pace of change currently being observed. ‘The study will examine the changing landscape and identify any issues preventing the use of innovation and investment to deliver the benefits of competition to consumers,’ Mr Sims said.

Areas of focus which the ACCC has already identified for the study include:

  • changes in the structure of communications markets
  • growth in availability of services provided ‘over the top’ (OTT) using the internet as a delivery platform, including social network platforms, communications and marketplace apps
  • exponential growth in the demand for bandwidth and data, largely reflecting the emergence of streaming music and video content services, which place significant demands on network capacity
  • increased use of mobile data and the increasing preference for mobile as a way to access the internet.

The ACCC has indicated it will commence its consultation with the release of an issues paper by the end of this month, and is calling for interested parties to register their interest in participating now via the ACCC’s dedicated Communications sector market study webpage.

A draft of the findings will be released for comment prior to the ACCC completing the market study in 2017.