The consumer watchdog has commenced a public inquiry to decide if the domestic mobile terminating access service (MTAS) declaration should be extended, changed or simply quashed.
"The MTAS is a wholesale service that allows consumers on different mobile networks to make calls or send SMS to each other," the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) explained.
The current MTAS declaration was created in 2014 and a review is required 18 months prior to the expiration on 30 June 2019.
MTAS is provided through mobile network operators, the network originating the call (whether fixed or mobile) pays the network receiving the call or SMS for the MTAS.
According to the ACCC, the discussion of the relevance of the current MTAS is due to consumers' use of over-the-top services such as Skype and WhatsApp to send messages and make calls.
The public inquiry will assist the ACCC to determine whether the MTAS should remain a ‘declared’ or regulated service.
“Increasingly, consumers are choosing over-the-top services to make calls and send messages,” ACCC commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.
"These fall outside the MTAS service description and we are interested in knowing whether the ability of consumers to choose these ways of communicating means that declaration of the MTAS is no longer necessary.
“Regulation of wholesale mobile termination has, in the past, helped to lower retail prices for mobile services for the benefit of consumers. This inquiry will consider whether continued regulation is needed to deliver this result."
The ACCC is looking to determine if the service description remains fit-for-purpose and accurate.
“We also intend to test what effect the declaration of SMS services in 2014 has had on relevant markets, in particular its impact on consumers,” Cifuentes added.