Australian telecommunications regulator ACCC has proposed to continue regulating Australia's domestic mobile terminating access service (MTAS) for voice services, including setting default mobile termination rates (MTRs).
But the regulator has proposed to drop the price declaration of the MTAS for SMS services as a result of increased competition from OTT messaging apps such as iMessage and WhatsApp.
The MTAS is a wholesale service for interconnecting calls and SMS between mobile networks. The ACCC's regulation of the service includes a price declaration, which is the MTR that operators are required to offer in the absence of a commercial agreement with the terminating network provider.
In August, the ACCC launched a public inquiry into whether to continue the current regulation of voice and SMS MTAS, which has been regulated since 2014.
After the inquiry the ACCC has provisionally concluded that while the voice declaration is still required, the SMS declaration is not.
“Many consumers with smartphones are now using over-the-top messaging services such as iMessage and WhatsApp as alternatives to SMS. Importantly, we have also found that the majority of mobile plans now on offer in the market offer unlimited SMS,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.
“Our decision to regulate SMS appears to have had the desired effect. We are therefore proposing to remove regulation of MTAS for SMS services as we do not think continued regulation is necessary to promote competition.”
But Sims said OTT voice services are not yet substitutes for mobile calls due to quality issues and the lack of access to services such as the 000 emergency hotline.