Australian Telco Infrastructure Deal Challenged | 5G Monopoly Accusation

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Australian Telco Infrastructure Deal Challenged | 5G Monopoly Accusation

Andrew Sheridan, Optus VP of regulatory and public affairs, has challenged what the new TPG Telecom/Telestra deal will mean to others in the industry: “Under the terms of the deal, Telstra circumvents normal competition rules and obtains access to highly valuable regional spectrum that will give it an unprecedented and unfair advantage in the transition to 5G.”

TPG Telecom has responded to a call made by Optus for the ACCC to block a proposed infrastructure-sharing deal with Telstra.

Last week, Optus aired concerns about the landmark February deal between TPG Telecom and Telstra.

The deal will see TPG decommission more than 700 of its own mobile towers in regional Australia, instead using Telstra’s infrastructure to expand its reach to more than 3700 locations.

Optus accused TPG of “waving the white flag on regional Australia” and said the deal also “creates the prospect of a regional 5G [infrastructure] monopoly”.

A TPG Telecom spokesperson called the accusations “disappointing”.

“Optus appears to have misunderstood the nature of the proposed agreement and its pro-competitive benefits for customers in regional Australia,” the spokesperson said.

“Optus is erroneously suggesting this will reduce competition in regional areas when in fact it will do the opposite and introduce more competition and greater choice.”

While Optus has extensive 4G coverage of non-metro areas, TPG said the Telstra deal will “immediately make TPG the second provider to offer 5G in regional Australia.”

TPG also dismissed suggestions it was “giving up on regional Australia.”

“This is not a resale agreement or even a roaming agreement, this goes much further,” the spokesperson told iTnews. 

“It is an infrastructure sharing arrangement, pooling sites and spectrum to deliver greater choice for regional customers.”

TPG also said inter-carrier agreements in regional locations aren’t new to the Australian market.

“Arrangements between networks to provide regional coverage have been active in Australia for nearly 20 years,” the TPG spokesperson said.

“Previous roaming and site arrangements have existed between Optus and Vodafone, Telstra and Orange, and Telstra and 3.”

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