Commpete to boost Australia’s regional mobile network

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Commpete, a leading alliance for fostering competition in digital communications in Australia will front a parliamentary inquiry into regional multi carrier mobile infrastructure investment in Australia.

This will be done through a group featuring the likes of Pivotel, BAI Communications, and Maddocks Lawyers.

The group has re-affirmed its support for co-investment in regional telecommunications, emphasising its potential for positive impact on market competition for retail and wholesale markets in Australia.

The parliamentary inquiry was initiated in October at the request of Michelle Rowland, minister of communications and aims to examine the current state of Australia's non-co-located mobile infrastructure and explore the feasibility, cost, and benefits of introducing multiple carriers, especially in regional areas.

Commpete chair Michelle Lim said the four entities uniting before the inquiry to represent the alliance demonstrates the significance and urgency of the message.

"While Commpete's members may have differing commercial interests, we stand united in advocating for government co-investment in regional telecommunications,” she said.

“Our focus is on fostering competition and choice in expanding coverage in regional areas, and maximising public benefits right from the start.

“The current regulatory settings were put in place in a different era, 25 years ago.

“They could not and did not anticipate the massive change in the sector over that time.

“We’ve seen decisions over coverage become concentrated in a few hands, and these providers can restrict the geographic reach of their networks and hinder roaming and active network sharing, preventing wholesale opportunities for a broader range of market participants.”

Lim concluded that mandated active network access is required to restore competition and bring access and choice to regional Australia.

“At a minimum, the operator of any co-funded infrastructure must provide active network sharing on an open access basis at designated rates which are set by the regulator.

She added that this should also include access by Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).

“Now is the time to make changes to positively favour co-investment and mandate sharing of mobile infrastructure that is fully or partially publicly funded.

“We need to shape the policy for the future, recognising that public funding will always be an important element, but that co-investment will attract smaller private investors.”