ACCC reports lower prices and improved telco services

Australia’s consumer watchdog has released a comprehensive report into the communications sector, and the good news is that internet and phone plans are getting cheaper, even with bigger data quotas.

The report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) provides a comprehensive overview on the state of the telecommunications sector, most notably the mobile and internet markets, with a particular focus on the National Broadband Network (NBN).

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims highlighted NBN speeds, pricing and increased competition as particular wins for Aussie consumers.

“The communications sector is undergoing a period of rapid change. Since the draft report, there has been encouraging progress on key issues identified in the report, like NBN speeds, pricing and work towards improved service standards, at least in part because of the actions we’ve already taken,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC has cracked down on NBN providers lately, ordering telcos such as iiNet, Internode, Dodo, iPrimus, TPG, Optus and Telstra to compensate customers over misleading NBN speeds.

“Competition will increase further as Vodafone expands its NBN footprint and TPG deploys its wireless network, bringing additional choice to consumers in terms of quality and pricing of telecommunications services,” said Mr Sims.

The deployment of 5G mobile data in Australia could also strengthen the internet in the coming years, according to the ACCC.

“While there is still some uncertainty about the nature and timing of 5G deployment, we re confident it will create great opportunities for both industry and consumers. 5G also has the potential to accelerate fixed to wireless subscription,” Mr Sims said.

“Importantly, the price and service performance of NBN services will influence the extent to which this substitution will occur.”

The ACCC first announced the study in August 2016, with a draft report issued in October 2017. The full report can be found here.

What did the ACCC report find?

Diving into the report, the ACCC found that despite controversies and backlash, telecommunications in Australia is moving in a positive direction. In regards to the NBN, the ACCC reports:

  • Prices on NBN 50 speed tier slashed
  • NBN available to 6.3 million premises
  • 56% of activations have been in regional areas
  • 37% increase in CVC (bandwidth) between September and December 2017

Despite this, however, four providers supplied 96 per cent of services to residential premises, and the three big telcos in the mobile plan space – Vodafone, Optus and Telstra – accounted for 91 per cent of mobile services. Despite the concentration, the ACCC also found that prices have fallen while data limits have increased.

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