Proponents of telecommunications deregulation are promising increased competition and cheaper local calls when Optus Vision enters the $5 billion local call telephone market in the next few weeks.
However, international telecommunications analysts expect the cheaper local calls will not last too long in the competitive market. Alan Ruff of NUS International says that if international experience is anything to go by, deregulation will not result in cheaper local phone calls in the longer term.
"The deregulation of the Australian market so far has had little effect on telephone prices. For example, the latest NUS survey of phone call costs around the world revealed that, in terms of international calls, Australia was the only country in the 13-nation survey to post an increase in overseas charges - up 0.6 per cent over the 12 months ending February 1995."
"Despite all the assurances, Australia will probably adopt timed local calls, at least for business. It is almost inevitable, perhaps sooner than later," said Bob Findlay, vice-president and international sales director of cost analysis at NUS International.