Greater impact on broadband markets

Following 5G rollout.

The rollout of 5G networks in Australia will have a significant impact on broadband markets, including the NBN, according to ACCC chair Rod Sims.

Sims, who was speaking at an ACMA RadComms conference, said an interesting dynamic was developing between mobile networks and the NBN in Australia as 5G networks will be the first generation of mobile technology capable of delivering broadband services, comparable to fixed services, in terms of speed and capacity. “Mobile broadband services may become more of a viable substitute for fixed broadband,” he said

“This is unprecedented in the Australian market, and indeed globally. It is great news for consumers as it will create more choice of services and suppliers and see telco products better align with their needs, particularly those who value mobility, like renters.”

It also leads to an interesting competition issue: what does 5G mean for the NBN? “We will need to wait and see what happens when 5G becomes widely available and how markets react.”

However, he warned against seeking to restrain others in order to protect the NBN business model which he said would be a disaster for consumers. And critical to ensuring the 5G rollout was working for consumers’ benefit was ensuring it is done in a way that promotes competition.

“We know that 5G is going to lower the cost of delivering data, but those changes will be accompanied by large capital and operating costs. Operators will need to acquire new spectrum, densify their networks by building more mobile towers, and make sure their transmission can support delivery of new services. Competition will drive this investment. It can be the catalyst for innovation with operators building wider, better networks, to provide higher quality services.”

He acknowledged that investment costs can be significant, and in order to see more competitors in mobiles it would be necessary to think carefully about how to best achieve sustainable competition and minimise barriers to entry.

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