Optus: ACMA should stop telco ‘race to the bottom’

Optus: ACMA should stop telco ‘race to the bottom’

Regulator has role to play in preventing cut-throat competition in the telco market, according to Optus director of government and corporate affairs

Optus is calling for tighter regulation by the Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) on cut-throat practices in the competitive telecommunications industry.

The media regulator is due to publish a report, Reconnecting the Customer, based on a public enquiry on customer service and complaints handling by the telecommunications industry on Friday. The enquiry was spurred by the exponential rise in complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).

A preliminary report published several months ago came out with several recommendations including banning the use of terms such as “cap” and “unlimited” used to advertise mobile or broadband plans and giving customers the ability to monitor their spend in real-time in order to combat ‘bill shock’.

But some have suggested ACMA should dig further into the heart of the issues plaguing the telco industry. With more entrants joining the mobile services game and ADSL2+ market reaching saturation point, competition is becoming more cut-throat.

Telcos are continuously finding new ways to gain market share, introducing cap plans which intend (some might say purport) to offer better value to customers at a lower cost. “Cap” and “unlimited” plans have flourished in this kind of environment.

“The ACMA does have a pretty big role to play to stop what I call ‘the race to the bottom’ on some of these issues,” Optus director of government and corporate affairs, Maha Krishnapillai, said.

He was speaking during a panel discussion at the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) Our Broadband Future conference in Sydney.

“This is a competitive industry; if one person introduces a Cap, we all have to respond,” Krishnapillai said. “It’s not a world where we can say ‘Oh, we can just let them go ahead and keep doing that’.

“We all have to respond in some way so I personally would like to see some tighter regulation on that race to the bottom, which is a risk in any industry that is competitive.”

While calling on for more regulation in that department, Krishnapillai doesn’t want to see too much constraint in the way telcos present their service offerings.

“This is a technology sector, there will be new innovations happening all the time so you can’t collar it in such a way that you only have a vanilla product and that’s it,” he said. “Everybody wants different services and different ways of using technology.”

On the discussion panel, Krishnapillai was joined by Telstra strategy and corporate services managing director, Paul Fegan, Vodafone director of customer service, Cormac Hodgkinson, and Internode managing director, Simon Hackett.

The ACCAN Our Broadband Future conference continues.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @spandaslui

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Tags TelecommunicationsoptusTelecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA)Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN)Reconnecting the Customer


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