ACCC pushes for cheaper mobile calls and texts

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ACCC pushes for cheaper mobile calls and texts

Asks for advice on termination rate pricing.

Australia's competition watchdog has put forward a number of proposals to cut the cost of mobile phone calls and text messages in order to bring them in line with international equivalents.

As part of its inquiry into pricing the declared mobile terminating access service (MTAS), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today released a discussion paper [pdf] outlining a number of ways to reduce the cost of calls and texts.

The MTAS inquiry most recently saw the watchdog decide to regulate fees charged by network operators to receive and terminate SMS services on their networks for the first time, after finding commercial negotiations had failed to lower high SMS rates.

The MTAS is the wholesale agreement telecommunications companies offer each other to connect calls between different networks. It previously did not include SMS messaging, rates for which have instead been set by commercial agreements.

The ACCC is now looking for feedback on how the services for SMS and voice call terminations should be priced.

It said Australia's mobile voice termination call cost of 3.6 cents a minute was high compared to the United Kingdom (1.45 cents per minute), China (0.681 cents p/m), New Zealand (3.4 cents p/m) and other countries around the world. 

It proposed introducing standard pricing for calls regardless of whether the call landed or originated from a mobile or landline, and bringing fees in line with international equivalents.

The ACCC also suggested call and text message termination rates be set at the same price.

As a result, the regulated prices for mobile voice and SMS termination would likely fall below current regulated and commercial rates, the regulator said.

The ACCC will issue a proposed pricing model in October and expects to make a final decision on the in July next year.

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