The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Telecommunications Reports 2011–12, tabled today in Parliament, show consumers continue to benefit through falling prices for telecommunication services.
Prices paid by consumers for telecommunications services fell by 2.2 per cent in real terms in 2011 12. Prices are now almost 20 per cent lower than they were in 2006-07.
“Notably, real prices for fixed-to-mobile calls fell by over 10 per cent in 2011-12. Significant falls in these prices over the last five years are likely to be due to increased competition and ACCC reductions in the regulated wholesale price for mobile call termination,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
The report on telecommunications prices notes that it has become common for service providers to maintain the nominal price of their mobile and internet plans at certain price points. ‘Price changes’ are then made by changing the inclusions of those plans.
“The ACCC encourages consumers to shop around and consider whether they would be better off under a different offer or with a different service provider,” Mr Sims said.
For the first time, however, real prices for wireless internet services increased by 1.7 per cent in 2011-12. This price rise contrasts with significant falls in previous years, which helped drive strong take-up of wireless internet services. The turnaround in prices may reflect carriers’ response to the challenge of rapid traffic growth and the emerging risks of network congestion.
“In 2011-12, total data download volumes grew by 51 per cent. Like other infrastructure such as roads, telecommunications networks can get congested at busy times. Service providers will either need to invest in more capacity, adjust pricing or encourage their customers to shift their usage to less busy times in order to manage growing demands into the future,” he said.
While the National Broadband Network (NBN) will account for much of this investment, related investment by other carriers, for example in transmission capacity, will be required.
For the first time, more call minutes were made from mobile phones than fixed-lines. However, Australians increasingly favour a fixed-line connection for downloading from the internet. Fixed-line connections accounted for 94 per cent of all downloads in 2011-12.
The reports showed that Telstra continued to strengthen its market share in mobile handsets and wireless broadband markets in 2011-12.
The competitive safeguards report also provides an overview of the regulatory activity in the sector.
The ACCC Telecommunications Reports 2011-12 are available.
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