SYDNEY May 5 Australia's competition watchdog
said on Friday it will not regulate the nation's mobile roaming
market, in a favourable draft ruling for the country's biggest
telco, Telstra Corp Ltd, which can keep rivals from
using its infrastructure.
There was "insufficient evidence" that regulating the market
would improve competition, the Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said in a statement,
adding that a final decision is due mid-year.
Telstra, a former government-owned monopoly, operates
Australia's most extensive mobile network, and has argued
against having to share its regional network with rivals such as
Singapore Telecommunications' Optus and and Vodafone
Group at commercial rates.
The company had been lobbying strongly against government
regulation of the mobile market, as it would hurt earnings and
erode the benefits of a A$3 billion ($2.2 billion) mobile
network upgrade Telstra announced last year.
The draft decision comes three weeks after Telstra stock was
roiled by competitor TPG Telecom announcing it would
build its own mobile network to rival Telstra's.
Telstra was not immediately available for comment.
The ACCC has previously twice decided against regulating the
mobile roaming market.
($1 = 1.3495 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Richard Pullin)