Aussie watchdog urges industry to reach pricing accord

Australia’s competition watchdog says a determination on the wholesale GSM mobile termination service prices could be made by the end of the year, unless industry players agree to reach a commercial agreement before then.

SYDNEY (ZDNet Australia)--Australia’s competition watchdog says a determination on the wholesale GSM mobile termination service prices could be made by the end of the year, unless industry players agree to reach a commercial agreement before then.

The termination service is a wholesale access service that enables mobile subscribers to receive calls from other mobile subscribers and fixed line callers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) claims a final arbitration decision on wholesale GSM mobile termination service prices will be reached as soon as possible, “hopefully by the end of the year,” a spokesperson said.

That's only if industry cannot reach a commercial agreement on pricing in the meantime.

“Now that pricing principals in arbitration have been implemented, we’re hoping that the parties involved may interact and reach commercial agreements in light of these,” an ACCC spokesperson said.

The service has been the subject of a number of disputes between fixed-line and mobile carriers Telstra, WorldXchange, AAPT and Vodafone, in which the ACCC has been refereeing the disputes since 1999.

In a recent announcement, ACCC chairman Allan Fels said he expected the price falls for wholesale GSM mobile termination service will be at the same rate as the corresponding retail market.

Fels said the watchdog’s approach would be relatively light-handed and would result in the wholesale GSM mobile termination service being regulated less extensively than fixed line services.

“The ACCC will be discussing with industry ways to increase competition and reduce the need for ongoing regulation,” Professor Fels said.

A Telstra spokesperson said that the recent announcement is a good first step, however industry is still eager for a final decision.

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