The ACCC is looking at introducing regulated roaming and the wrong decision could put investment in regional Australia at risk, writes Group Executive Corporate Affairs,Tony Warren.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is holding an inquiry into whether or not mobile phone companies should be forced to let competitors use their network. This is known as ‘regulated roaming’ and it could take away one of the biggest reasons companies invest to win your business.

This inquiry means the ACCC will once again decide whether or not Australians, particularly in regional areas, continue to benefit from investment in mobile communications.

Australia is recognised as having one of the best mobile markets in the world. We have strong competition, falling prices and excellent technology. This has been the result of sustained investment by all three mobile network operators.

Telstra is proud of its commitment to regional and rural Australians and provides the largest and fastest mobile network coverage. We can connect 99.3% of the population and we cover 2.4 million sq kms. In the three years to June 2017, we expect to have invested $5 billion in mobile services nationally. Over the next three years, on top of our normal investments, in our mobile network, up to $3 billion will also go into further boosting our networks, customer experience and digitisation.

Where there is lack of choice for regional Australians, it is because our competitors have made the decision not to invest in those areas.

Regulating mobile roaming would take away our ability to offer customers a better experience and bigger mobile network than any of our competitors. Regulated roaming would mean there was virtually no reason for any mobile phone company to invest in new coverage or better technology.

When the ACCC held two previous inquiries (in 1998 and 2005), it decided regulated roaming was not the way to go. History shows that without regulated roaming, investment flows for regional Australians.