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Aussie competition regulator opposes the formation of a super-telco

Editorial Staff

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has issued a notice opposing a "merger" proposal involving TPG Telecom Limited (TPG) and Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd (Vodafone). The reasons include that TPG has been "disruptive" in a complacent market and is "the best prospect Australia has for a new mobile network operator to enter the market." But it's a far more complex picture than that.

That's as may be but the fact is that TPG is still a relative minnow: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have a combined market share of 87% of what the ACCC calls "a very concentrated mobile services market." Perhaps a reality check might help readers: "As of 2019, Australia has an estimated population of 25.09 million, up from the official 2011 census results of 21.5 million... between Cameroon and Madagascar." (Source: http://worldpopulationreview.c..." "Australia's Size Compared. Australia is the planet's sixth largest country after Russia, Canada, China, the USA, and Brazil. At 7 692 024 km2, it accounts for just five percent of the world's land area of 149 450 000 km2, and although it is the smallest continental land mass, it is the world's largest island." (source: https://www.ga.gov.au/scientif...). The vast majority of the population are clustered into the coastal South East (http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats...@.nsf/Previousproducts/3218.0Main%20Features752016) and population density for states and territories ranges (2016) from 171/square KM in the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra) to 0.2 people per sq km in the Northern Territories. But those figures are misleading, as anyone who has ever been to, say, Sydney or Melbourne will know. Much of the state of Victoria, for example, is sparsely populated. When one looks at the reality of where people actually live, the figures are far more confronting as Australians have taken to saying (why? We've no idea. It's a silly use of the word.). "The most densely-populated SA2 in Australia in 2016 was inner-city Melbourne (17,500 people per sq km). The neighbouring SA2 of Carlton (11,300) also featured in Australia's top ten. Eight of the ten most densely-populated SA2s in the country were in Sydney, including Potts Point - Woolloomooloo (15,800 people per sq km), Pyrmont - Ultimo (15,700) and Darlinghurst (14,200). These areas all surround Sydney's central business district. At the other end of the scale, 205 SA2s in Australia had population densities of less than 1 person per sq km, the majority of which were in Queensland (46 SA2s), Western Australia (41) and New South Wales (37). The Northern Territory had the highest proportion of SA2s with less than 1 person per sq km, at 26%, followed by Western Australia (16%)."

This information is vital for e.g. public transport, electricity, water, waste and telecoms: it is always, always, always the "last mile" that is by far the most costly and the less people there are to share that cost, more, either, they have to pay or to be, in effect, subsidised by other users.

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