5G auction could see competition issues, says ACCC

Monday, 06 November, 2017

5G auction could see competition issues, says ACCC

With the upcoming 5G auction, the ACCC is revisiting the way in which it approaches spectrum competition issues.

It is also urging the government to take a long-term and consumer-centric approach to spectrum allocations.

“Traditionally, the ACCC has sought to prevent dominance of spectrum by any one licensee in particular bands. However, we are rethinking this approach,” said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims.

“Instead, and this is a key point, we want to consider spectrum holdings holistically rather than in particular bands.

”Companies put a value on preventing their competitors or potential competitors getting access to spectrum. This means that a large part of the value of spectrum is actually in reducing competition.

“I do not want to see some players, particularly a new mobiles entrant, prevented from competing with incumbents because they cannot get access to sufficient spectrum.”

Sims urged government to look beyond the budget bottom line when auctioning spectrum.

“The value of spectrum lies in the economic and social benefits it can provide to citizens and consumers, not in financial returns to the Budget,” he said.

He also foreshadowed the competition challenges of 5G, which could be a substitute for fixed networks.

“5G allows wireless broadband services at gigabit speeds, the ability to connect large numbers of devices and objects which would facilitate the Internet of Things, and the ability to provide a number of discrete fit for purpose networks rather than general purpose networks,” said Sims.

“The Internet of Things will present mobile network operators with incentives for deployment, including in regional Australia.”

As the role of mobile networks stretches beyond providing communications between people, to providing connectivity to millions of devices and objects, the business cases for network deployment will no longer be restricted to where people live and travel.

Increasingly, the need for data to support businesses will justify new investments.

“The ACCC will closely monitor whether our regulatory settings promote interconnection between networks, particularly between smaller fixed networks and larger mobile networks, and provide incentives for investing in regional mobile coverage,” said Sims.

“We want the full benefits of 5G to be realised, and we want these benefits to be realised by all Australians through a competitive market.”

Image credit: ©thampapon1/Dollar Photo Club

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