Chairman Rod Sims today outlined aspects of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s work which contributes to affordable communications services.

As part of a wide-ranging speech, Mr Sims discussed the ACCC’s focus on pursuing the long-term interests of end-users in regulating communications markets. He mentioned that, for broadband customers, the effective price per gigabyte (GB) had fallen from approximately $30 /GB in 2007 to less than $1/GB today.

Speaking at the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network Conference in Sydney, Mr Sims also argued the case for a broadband performance and monitoring program.

“A broadband performance and monitoring program would promote competition and consumer outcomes by providing transparency over the quality of broadband services that are on offer to consumers.

“Consumers need this information to help them select the most appropriate service for their needs and to confirm they are likely to be getting the service for which they are paying.”

Mr Sims said the US, UK and other countries have adopted broadband monitoring models which aim to improve transparency and encourage performance-based competition for broadband services.

“Since late 2013, the ACCC has consulted on the possible introduction of a fixed broadband performance monitoring and reporting program in Australia. We have looked at the technical and commercial aspects of such a program and anticipate publishing our work in the near future.”

In discussing competition in the communications sector, Mr Sims said the ACCC’s role in assessing mergers is important for affordability due to the potential long-term impacts on market structures.

“In the TPG acquisition, the ACCC concluded that the removal of iiNet as an independent competitor would lessen competition in the relevant markets, but not substantially, which is the test to breach the competition law,” Mr Sims said.

“We took comfort that TPG would continue to face three major competitors after the acquisition. Clearly, we would have no such comfort in the case of any subsequent proposed acquisition involving any two of Telstra, Optus, TPG or M2, as things stand.”

Mr Sims said the ACCC is also considering the likely competition impacts of the proposed suite of acquisitions between Foxtel, Ten and Foxtel’s digital advertising agency MCN.

“We are conducting extensive market inquiries to hear a range of views on the proposed acquisitions, given their scope and the potential inter-relationships between them.”

Mr Sims said the ACCC is focusing on three main questions.

“First, will Foxtel’s tie-up with Ten substantially lessen competition for sporting rights?”

“Second, will Foxtel’s tie-up with Ten substantially lessen competition for other, non-sport content and result in popular TV shows and movies being available on first release on Foxtel rather than on free-to-air TV?”

“Third, will Ten’s acquisition of a stake in MCN substantially lessen competition in the supply of advertising opportunities?”

Mr Sims also outlined compliance and enforcement activities including the ACCC’s input into the review of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code.

The Chairman’s speech is available at