The ACCC also announced yesterday that it had commenced an inquiry into the declaration of a wholesale domestic roaming service, re-examining an issue it last considered back in 2005.

In announcing the inquiry, the ACCC noted the importance of mobile coverage particularly for Australians living in regional areas, stating that issues of coverage and lack of choice in regional areas had been raised with it by a number of groups. Key issues which will be considered by the inquiry include evolving consumer demand for mobile services, and whether those needs differ in regional and urban areas. The ACCC will also consider likely investment plans of mobile network operators in the absence of regulatory intervention, and whether there are significant barriers preventing the expansion of existing networks.

In initiating this as a separate inquiry the ACCC has specifically excluded mobile roaming issues from consideration as part of the broader telecommunications market study discussed above.  ACCC Chairman Rod Sims indicated that the ACCC considered segregating its consideration of the issue in this way was likely to provide the market with greater certainty and a quicker outcome.