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Vodafone denied wholesale mobile roaming hopes

Vodafone denied wholesale mobile roaming hopes

The telco filed its action in June

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Credit: Dreamstime

Vodafone Australia's legal efforts to turn around the Australian consumer watchdog's decision not to allow a wholesale domestic mobile roaming scheme has been rejected by the Federal Court.

Vodafone filed legal action for a judicial review of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) process in its domestic roaming inquiry following its draft decision on 5 May, which saw it reject proposals to allow a wholesale domestic mobile roaming service.

If a national roaming service were to be declared by the ACCC, it would allow mobile network carriage providers tap into infrastructure belonging to other telecommunications providers to access additional coverage.

Such a move would see Telstra, which has the largest rural and regional mobile coverage in Australia, compelled to open up its network to other carriers, such as Vodafone and Optus.

At the time of the ACCC’s draft decision to not allow such a scheme, Vodafone Australia criticised the tentative ruling, suggesting that it represented a “missed opportunity” for regional Australia.

If a national roaming service were to be declared, it would allow mobile network users to access infrastructure belonging to other telecommunications providers to access additional coverage.

Such a move would see Telstra, which has the largest rural and regional mobile coverage in Australia, compelled to open up its network to other carriers, such as Vodafone and Optus.

Now, the Federal Court of Australia has dashed Vodafone’s hopes of forcing the ACCC to review its decision, with Justice Griffiths, before whom the case was heard, stating in his ruling that, “all the grounds of review fail because of the rejection of Vodafone’s primary and alternative cases”. 

It should be noted that Telstra had been joined as the second respondent in the case, while the court granted Optus leave to intervene in the proceedings. The hearing took place on 27 and 28 September 2017, with the ruling handed down by Justice Griffiths on 21 December.  

For its part, the ACCC had decided to proceed with its public inquiry while responding to Virgin Australia’s application for judicial review.  

On 23 October 2017, the ACCC released its final report into whether to declare a domestic mobile roaming service and concluded that there was insufficient evidence that declaration would promote the long-term interests of end users.

“The inquiry process is, by its very nature, a broad and flexible tool. It enables the ACCC to approach problems with an open mind and provides ample opportunity for all relevant viewpoints to be shared and given a considered hearing,” ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, said.

“It is important that the ACCC is able to thoroughly consider issues and views during the public inquiry process, especially where the ACCC is deciding whether or not to regulate a service.”

“The decision by the Court in dismissing Vodafone’s judicial review application validates the appropriateness of the ACCC’s approach to conducting public inquiries of this nature,” he said.


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Tags mobileVodafoneTelstraoptusaccc

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