Aussie data demands reach new heights

Australia’s data demands have reached new heights, but telco prices remain fairly stable, latest figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) show.

The ACCC’s annual reports on prices and competition in the telecommunications sector found that data downloads have increased 52 per cent for fixed line broadband, and a whopping 69 per cent for mobile. The increase is being out down to our increasing use of video streaming and cloud sharing services.

Despite the increasing data use, prices for telecommunications services, including internet, mobile and fixed line services, have fallen overall by 1.5 per cent, the ACCC found. Within this, prices for internet services increased by an average of 2.7 per cent, but this is being put down to the growing data allowances of many plans.

“While some consumers may be paying more, they are also getting much more in terms of data allowances,” said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims. “Consumer demand for streaming services, cloud services, and increasingly content rich websites and social media applications is driving this growth in data consumption.

“The rapid evolution of the sector is delivering access to higher quality communications networks and a greater range of services for consumers. Tellingly, retailers provide around four times the network capacity for each consumer on their NBN services than on Telstra’s ADSL network, enabling a better online experience for the more than forty per cent of consumers watching television over their broadband connection, or accessing other data intensive applications.”

The ACCC’s reports also found that competition is proving resilient to industry consolidation and the transition to new cost structures. Retail market shares have remained stable, while wholesale shares have moved as competitive carriers migrate their services to the NBN and mobile virtual network operators swap over to other mobile networks.

“The ACCC also welcomes progress on pro-competitive structural reform. In addition, important steps have been taken to allow businesses access to Telstra’s legacy networks on more competitive terms,” Mr Sims said.

The telecommunications sector will be a key focus for the ACCC in 2017. The consumer watchdog is working with industry and government to improve broadband speed claims, and is also undertaking a declaration inquiry into mobile roaming, amongst other things.

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