Australia’s competition watchdog proposed continuing regulating wholesale mobile voice services for an additional five years, but called for the removal of controls covering SMS termination services.

In a draft report released for consultation today (2 May), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) suggested the SMS regulation was no longer necessary due to increased competition from various messaging services.

The agency began regulating mobile and SMS termination access services in 2014 to ensure cross-network compatibility, it said in a statement.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said its decision to regulate SMS appears to have had the desired effect: “Many consumers with smartphones are now using over-the-top messaging services such as iMessage and WhatsApp as alternatives to SMS. Importantly, we have also found that the majority of mobile plans now on offer in the market offer unlimited SMS.”

But, Sims noted OTT voice services “are not yet substitutes for mobile” in terms of quality and access to services, citing emergency Triple Zero number calls as an example.

Comments are being accepted on the proposals until 31 May.