news The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has said that its next market study will focus issues affecting the Australian communications sector.
The body’s Chairman, Rod Sims, made the announcement at the ACCC/AER Regulatory Conference dinner on 4 August.
According to the ACCC, the market study will examine a range of issues concerning competition and efficiency in communications markets, and will involve consultation with both the industry and consumers.
Sims said that Australia is currently seeing a “significant change” in the way communications are carried out.
“Rapidly evolving technological developments, structural change within the sector, product innovation, and changing consumer preferences are all contributing to this change,” he said.
The market study will give an opportunity for the ACCC to conduct research and listen to a variety of views on technological developments and emerging trends, he added.
Recognising the importance of the communications sector to all Australians, as well as its importance to economic growth, the ACCC said the study will also allow it to consider “interrelated issues” that have been raised by the industry and that affect the “proper functioning” of the market.
“The study will examine the changing landscape and identify any issues preventing the use of innovation and investment to deliver the benefits of competition to consumers,” said Sims.
The ACCC has already held preliminary discussions with “a number of stakeholders”, it said, and has listed factors that it is likely to examine as including:
- The changing structure of communications markets, in particular the transition to a fixed-line market in which NBN Co is the wholesale provider to retail service providers, as well as consolidation and market concentration within the retail sector.
- The growth in availability of services provided ‘over the top’ (OTT) using the Internet as a delivery platform, such as social networks, communications and marketplace apps.
- The “exponential growth” in the demand for bandwidth and data in recent years – largely reflecting the emergence of streaming content services – placing significant demands on network capacity.
- The increased use of mobile data by consumers and the increasing preference for mobile as a means to access the Internet, including by Wi-Fi and, in the near future, 5G.
“The market study will consider how these and other changes affect competition, the efficient operation of markets, and investment incentives”m, the ACCC said.
It will also examine ways to address any issues identified and will also consider the potential to improve economic regulation of the sector.
The commission said it will kick off the consultation with an issues paper and will release a draft of its findings for comment prior to completing the market study in 2017.