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Telstra warns against roaming changes

AAP logoAAP 11/10/2016 Lilly Vitorovich

Telstra has stepped up its attack against possible regulation of mobile roaming charges, warning that the move would hurt profits and network investment across regional Australia.

"Why would anyone invest in maintaining or upgrading their regional networks when they can hitch a ride on someone else's network and there is no longer any competitive differentiation from greater network coverage?" chairman John Mullen said in Sydney on Tuesday.

Telstra currently sells access to parts of its network at negotiated prices, and two previous inquiries by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have found that access didn't need to be regulated.

However, some competitors think Telstra's access prices are too high and the ACCC last month launched a third inquiry, with a ruling due in February.

Australia's biggest telco, which covers 98 per cent of Australia's population, quickly opposed the new inquiry and further spelled out the reasons at the company's annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday..

"If the ACCC decides to declare mobile roaming, it would absolutely be at the expense of you, the Telstra shareholders," Mr Mullen told shareholders at the group's shareholder meeting.

"It would also be very bad for Australians that live and work in regional areas."

Chief executive Andrew Penn took a shot at UK-based Vodafone, which has argued in favour of the ACCC inquiry on the basis that roaming is regulated in other western countries with large land mass and areas of low population density..

"The principal advocate for mobile roaming is a foreign company that has chosen not to invest to the extent that Telstra has," Mr Penn said.

"A foreign company that is very capable of investing and a foreign company that has argued against roaming in other markets where it suits it do so."

Optus has agreed with Telstra that regulating roaming could pose a risk to investment in regional areas.

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