The ACCC has concluded its inquiry into the regulation of mobile terminating access services. The ACCC has decided to continue regulating mobile voice termination services for another five years and has also decided to regulate SMS termination services for the first time.
The inquiry raised a number of concerns about the charges for terminating SMS services, the fees charged when a SMS is sent across different networks, which have remained the same for over a decade. SMS termination rates are many times higher than the cost of providing the service, and commercial negotiations have not been a successful means of lowering rates. The inquiry also found that consumers without an unlimited plan, or that spend less on a mobile service, pay higher costs for sending SMS.
The ACCC has expressed concern that mobile network operators are able to keep wholesale SMS termination rates significantly above cost and considers that this has a negative impact on competition in wholesale and retail markets, particularly in relation to SMS prices available to low income consumers.
The ACCC has commenced a public inquiry into making a new final access determination for mobile termination access services. It will release a discussion paper on the pricing of MTAS shortly and will consult widely with the industry during the inquiry.