Consumers pay more for NBN plans while service levels remain largely unchanged

9 December 2022

The price of NBN home broadband services increased for consumers in 2021-22 while NBN Co’s own service standard measurements remained largely unchanged over the same period, the ACCC’s latest Communications Market Report shows.

The report looks at key developments in a wide range of telecommunications markets, and the state of competition in the sector.

It shows that consumers on entry-level NBN plans paid 3.6 per cent more in 2021-22 than they did the year before, and those on middle-of-the-range plans paid an extra 4.7 per cent. Consumers on higher-end and very high-speed plans experienced the largest price increase at 9 per cent.

“More than eight million households and small businesses rely on the NBN for their internet, so the trade-off between the price and service quality of NBN plans affects most Australians,” ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said.

The only key service metric of NBN Co’s that improved last financial year was that it fixed its appointment scheduling system.

Consumer demand for NBN broadband plans continued to consolidate at the 50 Mbps speed tier, with these services accounting for 62 per cent of all NBN retail services. The proportion of consumers on 100 Mbps services increased, but there were reductions in services on both the entry level (12 Mbps) and very high (greater than 100 Mbps) speed tiers.

Smaller internet retailers continued to gain market share from the large, established providers and expanded their coverage at NBN points of interconnect. Several of the smaller retailers achieved a national NBN presence for the first time in 2021-22.

“It’s encouraging that the growing market share of the smaller retailers and their expanding footprint will result in more choice for Australian consumers, regardless of where they live,” Ms Brakey said.

5G mobile coverage increased

All three national mobile network operators continued to make large investments in their 5G rollout in 2021-22, which reached regional areas for the first time.

5G services continue to be a focal point of competition between Telstra, Optus and TPG, while the mobile virtual network operators that use the mobile networks of the big three were able to offer 5G mobile services for the first time.

“The entry of mobile virtual network operators into the 5G retail market will broaden the range of options for consumers,” Ms Brakey said.

The 5G home broadband market also matured in 2021-22 as Telstra, Optus and TPG offered their 5G home broadband services in more areas. 5G broadband services could become an alternative to NBN home broadband plans for some customers, particularly in areas with high percentages of fibre to the node and fibre to the curb connections.

The advertised price of mobile phone services remained largely unchanged in 2021-22, but Telstra and Optus increased their prices in the second half of this year.

Typical data allowances again increased in 2021-22 compared to the year before. ACCC analysis suggests that much of this extra data in plans is left unused as the median data allowance is 35 GB per month, but consumers only download on average 10 GB per month.

“Consumers can potentially save money by shopping around for cheaper plans with just the inclusions that they need,” Ms Brakey said.

Internet upload speeds still short of advertised claims 

The ACCC report also summarises the findings of the ACCC’s Measuring Broadband Australia program (MBA) in 2021-22. The MBA results show a slight improvement in download speed performance for NBN fixed-line services such as fibre to the premises and fibre to the node, but download speeds during the busy evening hours and upload speeds during all hours remain below the retailers’ maximum plan speeds.

“Upload speeds are increasingly important for households and businesses, and we expect NBN Co and retailers to co-operate to ensure that this key service feature meets consumer expectations. The pandemic has given rise to more flexible working-from-home arrangements, and video communications require good upload speeds,” Ms Brakey said.   

Background

The ACCC is required to report each financial year on competition in the Australian telecommunications sector and price changes for telecommunications services in Australia. As set out in sections 151CL and 151CM of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The ACCC fulfils this requirement through the Communication Market Report. The Communications Market Report must be published on the ACCC’s website by 31 December.  

Release number: 
182/22
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Media enquiries: 
Media Team - 1300 138 917, media@accc.gov.au

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