The ACCC regulates the price of terminating calls on mobile networks. The bottom-up cost model it has been using was built around technology that is old. It is rightly concerned that any new bottom-up cost model based base on 3G could soon become redundant when operators start to carry voice over 4G – which they will within the term of the pricing determination.
With 4G (where voice will be IP based) and the NBN, there is no need to distinguish between voice and data as all traffic is bytes. The tried and tested way of exchanging bytes is peering and transit – which are unregulated. There are no termination fees for voice and SMS now – if they are carried as bytes over apps like Skype and Whatsapp. In this emerging context, there is no need to model costs or to regulate termination.
In the short term, the ACCC is considering using “actual costs” to model costs from the top-down – which is the same as the Building Block Method (BBM) the ACCC is now using in the fixed network. That seems the best approach for now. But, when voice becomes data (4G), the ACCC can step aside and leave it to the market.
To read the opinion piece, click here: Economuse 2014-08-08