Every now and then, the ACCC puts out a report that shocks us. Today is not that day. This year’s annual ACCC telco market report tells us that the price of NBN home broadband services increased in 2021-22, while the service standard measurements remained largely unchanged.
ACCC’s annual report on Australian communications markets for 2021–22 provides an overview of market developments, observations on competition and identifies trends and emerging issues. It also assesses the changes in prices paid by consumers for telecommunications services and examines competitive safeguards within the telecommunications industry.
Takeaways from the ACCC’s annual telco report
NBN prices increase, but service doesn’t
In the 49-page annual report, the ACCC says COVID-19 continued to affect Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure, mostly because a lot of the country’s east coast was still in lockdown in the second half of last year (the first half of 2021-21). With WFH orders in place, this put a strain on the networks.
But, on the pricing front, the ACCC was concerned about hikes in cost but not in service.
Over 2021–22, advertised prices for NBN plans increased, with the ACCC noting that plans with higher specifications increased at a greater rate compared to entry-level or basic plans. Breaking this down, the ACCC said entry-level or basic NBN plans with lower speeds increased by 3.6 per cent or $2.50 per month; mid-range NBN plans increased by 4.7 per cent or $4 per month and high- to very high-speed plans saw an increase of 9 per cent or $9 per month.
Feature-adjusted NBN prices decreased by around 7 per cent once adjusted for changes in plan speeds and data allowances, the watchdog added.
“NBN service standards remained largely unchanged over the year, with NBN Co reporting broadly consistent performance against the key consumer-facing operating metrics from August 2021,” the report says.
NBN Co, meanwhile, would perhaps argue this isn’t the case.
“We welcome the ACCC report which shows NBN is providing better value for money for its plans,” an NBN Co spokesperson told Gizmodo Australia.
‘The ACCC report says the price for NBN fixed broadband has actually decreased by around 7 per cent when you take into account the speed and the amount of data with the plan.”
NBN upload speed metrics have not improved significantly since early 2020, the ACCC continued, but there is a slight upward trend in the busy-hour download speed metrics for NBN fixed-line services. The majority of households are on 50Mbps NBN plans, too.
Elsewhere, smaller players took on more market share.
We’re not using all our 5G
The ACCC also noted that 5G mobile coverage increased during the reporting period, but many consumers are paying for more data than they use.
Overall, the advertised prices for mobile services in 2021–22 were largely unchanged, the ACCC said, but it also said data allowances continued to increase. Which of course sounds like a win for consumers. Median data allowances for entry-level plans increased by 20 per cent to 12GB; middle-of-the-range plans increased by 7 per cent to 32GB and higher-end plans increased 12 per cent to 60GB.
“To put these increases in context, consumers downloaded on average 10.2GB per month. While higher-value plans provide consumers with the ability to download more, consumers should continue to ensure their plans offer the right level of value-for-money according to their needs,” the ACCC’s annual telco report notes.
Over the year, 5G services became the main focal point of competition between the MNOs, the ACCC said, noting in its annual report that the 5G home internet market also “matured” for the telcos.
Overall, and not surprising, Telstra, Optus and TPG continue to dominate the retail market for mobile services. Over 2021–22, total mobile phone services increased by 3 per cent or around 926,000 to over 28 million services, the ACCC annual telco report notes.
Complaints are down
During the year, the ACCC received 5,149 complaints about telecommunications providers and consumer services. 79,534 complaints were also received by the Complaints received by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. While that seems like a lot, it’s actually a 17 per cent and 33 per cent drop, respectively, over the year prior.
Have a flip through the ACCC annual telco report over here. It’s kinda like the Spotify wrapped for us NBN fiends.
This article has been updated since it was first published.
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