The ACCC has issued an extensive draft report detailing its market study of the communications sector which includes 29 recommendations spanning a wide range of competition and consumer issues in communications markets. This follows on from the ACCC’s Issues Paper published in September 2016 in relation to the ACCC’s ongoing market study into the Australian communications sector.

According to ACCC Chairman Rod Sims, the ACCC has undertaken this market study to deepen its understanding of the communications market, and to make sure that the ACCC has the right tools to address market failure, promote competition, and benefit consumers.

The 190-page draft report sets out the draft findings from the ACCC’s market study, together with actions that the ACCC propose to take forward and recommendations for action by others.

The ACCC’s key findings include:

  • consumers are getting better value, however the key consumer markets show considerable concentration;
  • the NBN is more than half way through its roll out, but faces challenges with consumer experience and future competition;
  • while smaller providers have captured a higher share of NBN connections compared to legacy broadband connections, wholesale conditions may make it difficult to further increase this share; and
  • there is rapid growth and development of emerging services.

Not surprisingly, the roll out of the NBN and consequential impacts on consumers and retail service providers is a primary focus of the market study. The ACCC acknowledges in the draft report that a number of competition and consumer issues in relation to the NBN transition require immediate action.

The ACCC is seeking comments on the draft report by 8 December 2017. The ACCC expects to release a final report in early 2018.

The ACCC has been quick to implement some of its proposed actions, announcing last Thursday that the commission will undertake a public inquiry to determine whether NBN wholesale service standard levels are appropriate, and to consider whether regulation is necessary to improve customer experiences. The inquiry will focus on the ability to enforce appropriate service standard levels at a wholesale level, including redress arrangements when consumers seek compensation at a retail level when those wholesale standards are not met.

The ACCC will release a discussion paper in relation to the public inquiry in December 2017 seeking feedback from interested stakeholders.