Vodafone Australia has failed in its challenge to the consumer watchdog’s handling of an inquiry into domestic mobile roaming services in Australia.
The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission in May issued a draft determination that there was insufficient evidence a wholesale domestic mobile roaming service would benefit customers in the long term.
In June, Vodafone sought Federal Court orders to derail the ACCC’s draft decision and restrain the watchdog from proceeding with the inquiry on the basis of its preliminary decision.
The telco claimed the inquiry process, which produced the draft decision, was flawed and had not been carried out properly because a specific description of the roaming service had not been defined by the watchdog.
The telco claimed the process was failing consumers because it was ‘too vague’ and argued that without knowing the parameters of the proposed service, the ACCC could not properly conduct its analysis.
Despite the then ongoing court case, the ACCC proceeded with its inquiry and in October released its final report coming to the same conclusion as the draft.
However, it did also identify a range of measures that could help improve inadequate mobile phone coverage and poor service quality in regional Australia.
On Thursday, Justice John Griffiths dismissed Vodafone’s claims, saying the ACCC did not need to specify the service at the inquiry’s outset.
Vodafone, in response, said that while it respects the Federal Court’s ruling, it is concerned about the potential implications for the clarity and robustness required of the ACCC when making important decisions.
‘Despite the court’s decision, there is clearly still a problem that needs to be solved,’ Vodafone said in a statement.
‘We still firmly believe domestic roaming is Australia’s best opportunity to boost coverage and competition in areas where it doesn’t currently exist.’
The court has ordered Vodafone and the ACCC to work out the payments of costs between them within the next month.