Regulating domestic mobile roaming has recently been a topic of conversation predominantly between Australia’s major telecommunications companies and the ACCC. But what do people living in regional and remote Australia really think about it, given they’re the ones expected to benefit from domestic roaming if it’s regulated?

New research has revealed a majority of Australians living in regional and rural Australia would support the introduction of regulated domestic roaming.

The Regulated Domestic Roaming Research Report 2017 published by Empirica Research and commissioned by Vodafone* of more than 1,000 people living in regional and remote areas found 65% of respondents support or strongly support domestic mobile roaming.

Through domestic roaming, the cost of regional mobile infrastructure would be shared between two or more network operators, enabling all operators to invest in new sites, bringing coverage and competition to more Australians.

Currently, Telstra holds a monopoly in many areas of regional Australia and does not engage in any significant domestic agreement with any other mobile provider. If the ACCC decides to regulate domestic roaming, it would mean mobile service providers, such as Vodafone, would be allowed to pay for access to Telstra’s existing network infrastructure, thereby immediately delivering substantial benefits to all Australians, especially choice to those in regional Australia for the first time.

The ACCC has launched an inquiry into domestic mobile roaming to decide whether it’s something that should be regulated in Australia.

“Consumers are increasingly relying on mobile services and the issue of coverage and a lack of choice in some regional areas is a particular issue that has been raised by a number of groups,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

Why should regional Australians care about domestic roaming?

Domestic roaming could have a profound impact on people living and working in regional Australia. Respondents from the survey say the top 3 potential benefits that could arise are:

  • Better coverage;
  • Access to more competitive prices; and
  • Improved access to services as it would encourage greater competition among mobile carriers.

At the same time, 77% of those surveyed agree that regional mobile coverage funded by Australian taxpayers should be open to all mobile customers through regulated domestic roaming.

The same percentage of people believe regulated domestic roaming would bridge the telecommunications gap between regional areas and the major cities, as many of them believe there is currently a difference in the number of mobile network providers available to people living in the city versus in regional area was unfair.

“If there was more competition in rural areas and everyone had access to the infrastructure in place, it would make it better for everyone, although my friends on Telstra still have issues. I think in the 21st century, everyone should have access to everything they have, not just capital cities, especially in Australia where a lot of people live outside big cities,” said a Tasmanian resident of a small regional centre.

If you agree with the majority and support domestic roaming, contact your local MP now and let them know.

*The Regulated Domestic Roaming Research Report 2017 report Empirica Research was commissioned by Vodafone. We wanted an independent assessment of the attitudes and perceptions of regional and remote Australians towards mobile providers and domestic roaming.

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Tim McPhail

Head of Public Policy

Tim McPhail,
Head of Public Policy

As the Regional Connect specialist at Red Wire, Tim is passionate about improving mobile coverage and choice for regional and rural Australia. Tim also advocates for policies to support digital innovation in agriculture.

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