Tuesday, 12 February 2019 10:37

Nearly a quarter of NBN users on slowest speeds Featured

By
ACCC chair Rod Sims. ACCC chair Rod Sims.

Nearly a quarter of Australians who have connected to the national broadband network are on the lowest speed plan — 12Mbps down — according to the latest quarterly Wholesale Market Indicators Report issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The total number of consumers on this speed was 1,164,157, the consumer watchdog said in its report, which noted that almost 4.8 million Australians were now connected to the NBN, with 56%, or about 2.7 million, using plans that provided download speeds of 50Mbps and above.

The number of 50Mbps plans taken up also grew, reaching about 2.3 million by the end of December 2018, a big change from the 159,000 who were on these plans a year earlier.

Big telcos continued to dominate, with Telstra having 49.6% of the users, followed by TPG (21.6%), Optus (13.6%) and Vocus (8.6%).

“It’s good to see that retail services providers have been able to offer higher speed plans at more affordable prices – thereby giving many consumers more choice,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

But he added: “While there is clearly a trend towards higher speed plans, it is important that consumers continue to have the option of affordable, basic plans, which still make up one quarter of all services.”

accc report

The release of the data comes a day after the consumer group, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, said politicians should consider providing a wholesale broadband concession for those on lower incomes who had cheaper broadband connections at home.

The ACCC report showed that connectivity virtual circuit, the NBN bandwidth acquired by RSPs to provide data to their customers, fell a bit on a per user basis during the quarter, from 1.71Mbps to 1.65Mbps. This was put down to the introduction of new wholesale plans and the end of the Focus on 50 promotion.

“We will continue to monitor the amount of CVC RSPs provide to their customers, and whether customers are getting the service they are paying for, including those on the lowest speed plan,” said Sims.

The market shares enjoyed by RSPs were stable for the most part during the quarter, with smaller retailers' share going up from 6.3% to 6.6%. In numbers, that meant an increase of about 34,000 services.

At least six access seeker groups acquiring NBN services directly from NBN Co at all 121 PoIs while at least seven access seeker groups SOOT at 120.

Commenting on the figures released by the ACCC, Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said in a statement: "It is curious that Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has argued that only 2% of Australian households will need speeds of 50 Mbps by 2026.

"The year 2026 is seven years away and yet the ACCC is already reporting 56% of Australians are taking up speeds of 50Mbps and 100Mbps. This is a sign of how woefully out of touch the Morrison Government is when it comes to broadband.”

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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