The ACCC had
asked for comment on its statement of issues for
the Vodafone-Hutchison merger. It had raised some concerns such as
a potential loss of competition and the fact that it would be very
difficult for any new entrant to thereafter enter the market.
ATUG was unable to provide a viewing of its submission to ZDNet.com.au but
outlined key points.
Although the group welcomed stronger infrastructure-based
competition, it believed that Hutchison and not Vodafone was the
source of the "strong competitive pressure" in the market in price
ATUG feared that this would be lost if the merger proceeded.
Vodafone's brand will be dominant in the new entity called VHA, with the
future of the 3 brand seeming shaky in the long term. ATUG MD Rosemary Sinclair did,
however, admit that Nigel Dew's leadership of the new group could mean
that 3's market pressure would continue with VHA.
International roaming, a subject close to ATUG's heart, could
also take a blow.
"Hutchison has much better rates for roaming than either Telstra
or Optus. In view of the government focus on international roaming
rates (through trade arrangements) and despite industry claims that
the market will bring rates down ATUG regards the potential loss of
Hutchison pressure in this market as very negative," ATUG said.
Hutchison has much better rates for roaming than either Telstra
Optus also put in a submission. Optus general manger of regulatory affairs, Andrew Sheridan, has
told The Australian Financial Review that the merger may
create problems with the hoarding of the mobile spectrum.
Vodafone and 3 have been providing more information to the
commission to help its deliberations. They believe the merger will
provide more competition and better deals for customers.
Aside from Optus, finding non-involved parties who have put in
submissions on the merger has been difficult. The ACCC will not say
how many submissions it has received.
ZDNet.com.au understands that Telstra hasn't put in a
submission, while ACMA which handles Australian spectrum issues,
AAPT which resells Vodafone services, iiNet which resells 3 and Unwired
(which is a competitor in the mobile broadband market) have all said
that they haven't put in submissions. The Consumer Telecommunications Network has not responded to
questions on whether it put in a submission.
The submission deadline has now passed. The ACCC is due to hand down
its decision on 6 May.