Telco prices down and more data on offer, but continued scrutiny needed

28 February 2019

Lower prices and growing data services are the key consumer benefits in the ACCC’s communications market report for 2017-18.

Data downloads over the year jumped 45 per cent on mobiles and 27 per cent for fixed line services. During the period prices for mobile phone services dropped by 8.3 per cent in real terms, while fixed broadband prices fell by 1.5 per cent.

“Consumers are currently benefitting from falling prices and increased data allowances,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“The growth in data inclusions in fixed and mobile plans supports, and is potentially driving, the increased consumption of data by consumers.”

Telecommunication services 2017-18Click to enlarge

“We do have concerns, however, that not all consumers have experienced improvements, or will continue to do so in the future, which is why we are continuing our review of NBN appointment, connection and repair commitments,” Mr Sims said.

“We will also continue to closely follow developments in NBN retail markets, where competition for entry-level plans in particular appears to be lessening as retailers adapt to NBN Co’s new wholesale pricing arrangements.”

The report also shows that minutes spent talking on fixed line calls continued to decline, and time spent on mobile calls was stable, in contrast to the growth of previous years.

“It’s notable that, for the first time in recent years, the amount of minutes Australians spent talking on their mobiles remained steady,” Mr Sims said.

“We’re increasingly using social media and over-the-top services like Messenger, WhatsApp and Viber to communicate with each other.”

Also in 2017-18, the NBN eclipsed the legacy DSL network as the largest fixed line access network in Australia, allowing more consumers the option of acquiring a much higher speed broadband service than is available with ADSL which on average is around 8 Mbps.

“Providers are continuing to invest in network capacity, including the next major steps which are the deployment of 5G and completion of the NBN rollout,” Mr Sims said.

As NBN moves from the build phase to the operational phase, consumers have increasingly taken up higher speed products, with the proportion of 50 Mbps services on the NBN soaring from four to 35 per cent over 2017-18.

Average network congestion has fallen from almost 5.5 hours per week to 25 minutes per week over the year.

Consumer complaints to the ACCC and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman remain high with complaints about mobile services the most common, with key issues including poor mobile phone coverage, excess data charges and misleading sales practices.


This report is the first since we concluded our wide ranging communications sector market study in April 2018. It supplements the market study by outlining key developments across communications markets and ACCC regulatory and enforcement activities during the year.

Changes in the sector are a result of several developments, including changes to NBN Co’s wholesale pricing and measures by the ACCC and the Australian Communications and Media Authority to improve information for consumers about speeds and performance.

The report also notes that competition from mobile and wireless broadband services with increasing download allowances and lower prices may encourage some consumers to switch from the NBN to wireless broadband services, particularly as 5G is deployed.

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