Vodafone reckons domestic roaming could save Australians $658 million

Alex Kidman 23 June 2017

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Vodafone still isn't happy about the domestic roaming situation, arguing that it's costing Australians millions of dollars per year.

When the ACMA announced it was going to investigate the possibility of ruling in favour of domestic roaming for telcos, Vodafone was one of the most fervent supporters of the idea, although predictably Telstra was none too keen.

Then the ACMA handed down a draft declaration that essentially pulled domestic roaming off the agenda, and the roles were reversed; Telstra was happy and Vodafone was determined to fight on.

Vodafone's latest submission to the ACMA in relation to domestic roaming relies on analysis it has commissioned from Frontier Economics, which suggests that if the ACMA were to declare in favour of domestic roaming, Australians could save up to $658 million in usage fees per year. While the ACMA drew the conclusion that, because mobile phone call prices didn't vary by location roaming wasn't needed, Vodafone sees it differently.

In a statement, Vodafone's Chief Strategy Officer Dan Lloyd stated that

"We found the ACCC’s draft decision baffling, particularly since many of its comments strongly support the case for regulated domestic roaming. We couldn’t agree more with the ACCC that roaming wouldn’t undermine Telstra’s incentives for expanding coverage, as taxpayers have been footing the bill for that for years.

The ACCC also admitted that regional Australians are paying too much for mobile services. We also agree with the ACCC’s view that Telstra has been running a scare campaign about regional investment. Telstra’s campaign is clearly designed to confuse regional Australians, and put public and political pressure on the ACCC."

Optus, however, disagrees. In a statement, Optus’ Andrew Sheridan said:

"VHA hasn’t publicly released its submission yet, but previous claims it’s made in this inquiry have been built on sand, and haven’t held up under scrutiny. Roaming will not lead to price reductions. In fact, the ACCC’s draft decision recognised that it may result in higher prices for regional consumers."

The ACMA's decision on domestic roaming was only a draft decision, so it's feasible that it could change course before its final declaration.

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