In 2005, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) examined international mobile roaming (IMR) services and concluded that the prices paid by Australian consumers appeared high. Subsequently, in 2009, the Australian House of Representatives’ Standing Committee on Communications released the report ‘Phoning Home: Inquiry into international mobile roaming’. One of its recommendations was that the Australian Government engage other countries in bilateral and multilateral negotiations to address high roaming costs, ensuring that countries with the largest number of Australian visitors be given priority.
In this context, in May 2010, the then New Zealand Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Steven Joyce, and the Australian Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, released a discussion document prepared by officials from the then Ministry of Economic Development (MED) and Australia’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE).
The purpose of the discussion document was to test whether the state of the trans-Tasman roaming market was such as to warrant a full market investigation.
In April 2011, having considered submissions on the discussion document as well as traffic and revenue data collected from operators, Minister Joyce and Senator Conroy announced that they were launching a full market investigation.
The purpose of the full investigation has been to determine whether the market is competitive and, if not, what (if any) form of intervention by the New Zealand and Australian governments should be considered.
To this end, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and DBCDE prepared a draft report, published in August 2012. The draft report comprised a market definition, an assessment of competition within the market so defined and an analysis of potential interventions. As an input to the draft report, MBIE and DBCDE (together referred to in this final report as 'we’) also funded the preparation of a separate study by a consulting firm, WIK-Consult (WIK). WIK’s study estimated the underlying costs that mobile operators face in providing trans-Tasman roaming services.
Following consultation and analysis of submissions, MBIE and DBCDE have prepared this Final Report.