Australia risks missing out on the full benefits of the technological revolution unless its telecommunications policy is overhauled, according to Vodafone chief executive, Inaki Berroeta,
He spoke at the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Australia on October 21 and said that Australians in regional areas could be left behind due to lack of coverage and choice. He believes past policy decisions have led to a lack of competition in regional markets and it has caused a drain on the economy as a result.
“Currently, in Australia, we have two classes of mobile customers – those with access to coverage and choice of provider in metropolitan areas, and those without in many regional and rural areas. It is well understood that telecommunications is a critical area of the economy. It can drive jobs, innovation and productivity but a lack of competition and innovation in the sector will hold the economy back,” he said.
“We are encouraged that government is starting to recognise the importance of increasing competition as well as coverage through initiatives such as the Mobile Black Spot Programme, but more needs to be done.”
Berroeta said Vodafone urges the government to prioritise reform of the Universal Service Obligation which currently sees around $300m in taxpayer money each year, spent on preserving outdated voice services and preventing competition by increasing the dominance of one player.
“Mobile technology has a big part to play in building a productive and truly national digital economy. By optimising the use of next generation mobility, we can leverage Australia’s strengths in industries such as agriculture, education, transport, healthcare and tourism,” he added.
“For consumers, the introduction of 5G in the next five years will mean a whole new world of communication and convenience. While for businesses, it will open up new opportunities to increase productivity and reduce costs.”