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Five yearly review of mobile termination rates underway

Techblog Staff. 15 June 2020, 12:25 pm

The Commerce Commission is seeking feedback on its draft review findings that the Mobile Access Termination Service (MTAS) should remain regulated. 

"The purpose of the five-yearly review of MTAS is to determine whether we think there is merit in taking a deeper look at removing some of the regulation around mobile services," said Head of Telecommunications Simon Thomson.

MTAS, also known as Mobile Termination Rates, were a key feature of the mobile telco regime during the early 2000s and saw heated debate back and forth between the Commerce Commission and industry players, most notably Vodafone and 2Degrees' co-founder Tex Edwards. Until the price was included as a regulated service, Edwards maintained MTRs were an anti-competitive move that saw the major players able to block competition by pricing on-net communications (that is, Vodafone to Vodafone or 2Degrees to 2Degrees communication) at a different rate to off-net communications.

MTAS services are currently price regulated to ensure consumers can access affordable calling and SMS regardless of which network operator they are with.  

"While early indications show that there may be reasonable grounds to commence an investigation into removing SMS regulation due to the popularity of competing over-the-top messaging services such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, our preliminary view is that regulation of MTAS for voice calls remains important due to a lack of competitive alternatives," said Mr Thomson.

"The MTAS service has been considered as a whole in the current review, and at this time, we believe that there are not reasonable grounds to commence an investigation into removing MTAS regulation whilst acknowledging we have the option to look at the voice and SMS services separately should we choose to before the next five-year review."

Feedback on the draft review is due by 1 July 2020 with a final decision due by 23 September 2020.


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