- The NSW government called for cross-jurisdictional cooperation on telecommunications service planning for regional Australia in a proposal submitted to the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review.
- The proposal encompasses recommendations for looking into barriers to infrastructure and service sharing in regional Australia.
- It also suggests looking at ways to boost market competitiveness and equity of access.
The NSW government called for cross-jurisdictional cooperation on telecommunications service planning for regional Australia in a proposal submitted to the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review. This is set through a new forum that could bring together the Commonwealth, states, and territories.
The proposal encompasses recommendations for looking into barriers to infrastructure and service sharing in regional Australia. It also suggests looking at ways to boost market competitiveness and equity of access.
According to the submission, “This group could also investigate funding models or programs to help drive investment to support the emergence of new or alternative telecommunications providers and business models.” It cited Zetifi and Pivotel as examples of regionally focused “alternative providers”.
The proposal also contained recommendations to have an independently monitored “Australian Connectivity Index”. This index would be leveraged to measure access to telco services. Additionally, the NSW government backed a national mobile coverage map which would involve cross-jurisdictional efforts to collate existing data.
Based on the details from the submission, it was suggested that the federal government could potentially compel mobile network operators to share coverage information for their entire network “including detailed technical and usage data for all towers that have received government funding.”
Across the submissions by state and territory governments to the review, it was noted that there was significant support for encouraging greater infrastructure sharing. For instance, the NSW government called for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to look into domestic roaming in rural communities. It also fostered an investigation on the feasibility of bringing a model similar to NZ’s Rural Connectivity Group joint venture to Australia.
Furthermore, the submission stated that: “A model such as the one used in New Zealand could be supported by the introduction of a requirement that carriers provide site data to the government, in confidence, to allow better allocation of funding through co-locating wherever possible. This requirement should include terms for overarching consent to the co-location with co-funded government sites, unless exempt with valid reason.”
Meanwhile, Victoria’s government also presented a submission that included details proposing that mobile network roaming can be used to enable access to multiple carriers in regional areas. However, the submission added that: “There may be other mechanisms that can achieve the desired outcome with less contentious implications for private sector investment in regional markets, such as through carrier-neutral services.”
The Victorian Government said that it is also: “important to encourage multi-carrier access arrangements in areas where government subsidy has been required to incentivise market investment.”