Wednesday, 20 December 2017 10:54

NZ consumer complaints over telco industry service quality on the rise Featured


New Zealand’s competition regulator The Commerce Commission has revealed increasing concern over service quality and the growing number of consumer complaints about retail telecommunications in the country.

The commission’s concerns follow similar concerns expressed yesterday by Australia’s competition regulator, the ACCC, which revealed it is concerned about increasing service complaints to the National Broadband Network and whether, through an inquiry, to consider if regulation is necessary to improve customer experiences with the NBN.

Coming in the wake of the ACCC report, the NZ Commerce Commission Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said today that, “Despite competitive pricing, retail telecommunications is a priority area for the Commission because of our ongoing concerns about service quality and the growing number of consumer complaints we are receiving”.

Dr Gale was speaking after the commission released its annual Telecommunications Monitoring Report today revealing the key broadband and mobile trends for the year to 30 June 2017.

The report reveals that New Zealand Internet fibre connections are rising rapidly along with strong growth in fixed wireless broadband.

The report shows that New Zealand’s fibre broadband connections continue to increase, with 460,000 homes and businesses connected to fibre at the end of September – up 60% on last year.

And, there’s also strong growth in fixed wireless broadband services, which have quadrupled over the past year to reach 117,000 connections.

telco trends

According to Dr Gale the growth in connections to higher speed broadband has also contributed to average broadband download speeds increasing by 40% on last year - and data usage almost doubling.

"Landline calling is continuing to fall with the number of residential local calls nearly halving in the past two years. Text messaging is also declining, as other messaging services like Facebook Messenger, iMessage and Viber continue to grow,” Dr Gale said.

“Meanwhile, mobile phone calling continues to grow strongly which we attribute to mobile calling being relatively inexpensive and often more convenient.”

Dr Gale said both broadband and mobile pricing remains relatively competitive when compared with prices for equivalent offerings in Australia and other OECD countries.

“In terms of competition in the market, it’s pleasing to see smaller players including 2degrees and Trustpower increasing their market share in fixed broadband services.”

Dr Gale also noted that while the retail mobile market appears to be relatively stable at present, the Commission has started a study of the forward-looking competitive landscape for mobile markets.

The Commission is aiming to finalise the timetable and scope for this study early next year and complete the study in late 2018.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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