Conroy courts high mobile prices: Turnbull

Conroy courts high mobile prices: Turnbull

Summary: Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has accused Communications Minister Stephen Conroy of attempting to squeeze every cent out of mobile telecommunications providers in upcoming spectrum license renewal negotiations.


Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has accused Communications Minister Stephen Conroy of attempting to squeeze every cent out of mobile telecommunications providers in upcoming spectrum licence renewal negotiations.

In a blog post, Turnbull cited a report in today's Australian Financial Review that said the government has given mobile phone operators until early next year to commit to paying billions of dollars for licence renewals or face bidding for the spectrum at an auction.

"There is a legitimate debate about how the renewal fees should be calculated and concern expressed by the industry that if the prices are set too high it will inhibit carriers in making the investments to deliver new wireless broadband services," Turnbull wrote. "Wireless spectrum is a scarce resource and of course governments should aim to allocate it in a way that maximises the return to the taxpayer."

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Turnbull said that after passing telecommunications reform legislation and "ensuring there is no fixed-line competition" to the National Broadband Network (NBN), Conroy was attempting to make wireless a less competitive alternative.

"So from his distorted and confused perspective, squeezing the last dollar out of the wireless operators is no bad thing — the more they pay the government for spectrum, the more they will have to charge their customers and the less competitive wireless broadband will be with the NBN."

Turnbull's concerns were echoed in a recent report commissioned by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association. The report was authored by United Kingdom Apex economics expert Dr Chris Doyle who urged the government to consider "conservative" pricing for spectrum renewal or risk higher prices and reduced infrastructure investment.

"However, there is a worry in the current fiscal climate that government may be tempted to set a fee at the higher end of estimates. This would run the risk of inefficiency by causing scaled-back investment and higher customer prices for mobile services," Doyle said. "The knock-on effect would pose a serious risk to digital productivity objectives."

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Mobility, Networking


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Labor's Glorious stuff ups.

    First, Telstra.

    Then, the Miners

    Followed, by the Banks

    Next year, Telstra, Optus & Vodafone

    WHY decimate our telecommunications? perhaps a secret desire to progress to NBN 2, being NBN Mobile Co.
    Vasso Massonic
  • Nothing like a good historic trip back to NWAT circa 2005, for a good laugh!

    If governments of either persuasion are forced to back down, or water down policies to appease a handful of Billionaire miners and Banks, we all (regardless of political leaning) should be alarmed, not crowing.

    The last OECD report even suggested the mining tax was a great idea but "should go further" (perhaps much like it was)...

    But then as we have seen almost daily, since 2005, and become accustomed to... certain greedy individuals supporting big business interests (and their own share portfolios) at the expense of their fellow Aussies, haven't we?
  • True to form. The bad penny always turns up!

    Illegitimi non carborundum
    Vasso Massonic
  • @Vasso - One mans bad penny is another's ray of sunshine and enlightenment.

    Keep the bastards honest
  • Whilst I'm no fan of Conroy, in this case he's right. Shouldn't he be trying to get the best possible price for tax payers?
  • I agree, but he has to bed down the Terrestrial Network before agitating the Mobile Net.

    The problem with the NBN is clearly twofold: 1) Fast migration to the mobile net and, 2) The forced redesign of points of interconnect from 14 to 120 and possibly much more, will increase charge out rates and may kiss goodbye pricing parity Australia wide.

    Trying to milk wireless operators to square his books. will have a detrimental effect on productivity and reduce the much needed private sector investment. We could end up with a half baked NBN and a dormant mobile net.

    A huge worry.
    Vasso Massonic
  • all ok for coastal & city people again in most (country) areas is only covered next-g
    and who owns it no commertition in this area optus has a map mark a transmitter
    about 50 mts from police station just open space.
    bryon j bartley
  • Indeed viditor and thanks…

    I note rather than addressing my comment, our friend did not move away from his support of big business at the expense of all other Australian’s, even though he was given the chance. So…

    If me speaking the truth and arguing for the little person against big business greed (especially when selfishly promoted daily at many forums, by these businesses greedy, disgusting shareholders) makes me a bad penny, in those greedy people’s eyes… well that’s exactly what I am.

    And as such, I’m proud to be a “bad penny”!

    The day I descend from being just a bad penny to the disgraceful lows, of actually being a greedy, disgusting penny, who cares about no one but him$elf and hi$ dollar$, like them, is the day I hang my head in shame.
  • Oh the shock and horror of it.

    Turnbull criticising the government for doing exactly what the previous govt did when it flogged off Telstra. And left it's vertical monopolist tendencies intact for good measure.