Thursday, 28 February 2019 22:01

Telco prices down and more data offered, says competition watchdog Featured

Telco prices down and more data offered, says competition watchdog Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Australia’s competition watchdog, the ACCC, says lower prices and growing data services have been the key consumer benefits in the period 2017–18, with mobile phone services dropping by 8.3% in real terms, and fixed broadband prices falling by 1.5%.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, data downloads over the year jumped 45% on mobiles and 27% for fixed line services.

And the report reveals that real prices of telecommunications services continued to decline across most categories.

An average consumer renewing his or her fixed broadband plan would have paid 1.5% less in real terms and 8.3% less when renewing a mobile phone plan compared to 2016–17.

The ACCC says these declines take into account improvements in non-price characteristics, such as data allowances and other inclusions.

For the national broadband network, prices reduced by 4% while non-NBN fixed broadband prices increased slightly, in real terms, by 0.5%.

The ACCC noted that the decline in mobile phone service prices in 2017–18 continued a trend over the past five years, with real prices approximately 30% lower in 2017–18 than they were in 2013–14.

And overall in the past five years, there have been real price declines across all categories since 2013–14.

accc graphic

The executive summary to the ACCC’s report says that communication services are important enablers of an increasingly digital world where an exponentially increasing number of transactions and experiences are undertaken online, either voluntarily or as a requirement of the supplier of services.

“Connectivity thus becomes very important for a wide range of economic and social purposes. Pervasive connectivity and the continuing rise of data consumption accelerate the extent and impact of digital disruptions across an array of service markets,” the ACCC cautions.

“This includes markets beyond those we have traditionally considered ‘telecommunications’ but where communication services play an important role, and has led to the ACCC considering competition and consumer issues in new areas such as examining the market power of digital intermediaries (through our digital platforms inquiry) and access to consumer data as an enabler of consumer choice (through our consumer data right work).”

The ACCC says the communications industry and public sector are meeting the requirement for increased connectivity through ongoing investment including in 5G and “most significantly with the deployment of the national broadband network (NBN), the completion of which will significantly enhance fixed line connectivity in Australia”.

“The increasing importance of connectivity is a worldwide trend and a number of ongoing trends in communication markets in Australia reflect developments that are also occurring internationally and have continued in 2017–18.”

To access the ACCC’s full report click here.

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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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