The ACCC’s annual telecommunications reports for 2013-14 have revealed telecommunications prices are declining in Australia, falling by 2.7 per cent in real terms in 2013-14.Having remained subdued for the past few years, price competition picked up during the year, the ACCC found, with consumers experiencing the largest decline in average real prices paid for telecommunications services for three years.
The reports, tabled in parliament on Thursday, additionally reveal the average real prices of landline and mobile voice calls have now fallen by around 50 per cent since 1997-98, while broadband customers are benefiting from larger data allowances, faster speeds and lower prices.
“Competition is driving substantive reductions in the price of telecommunications services, significant infrastructure investment to improve the quality and coverage of services, and technological innovation,” commented ACCC chairman Rod Sims.
“Consumers are seeing lower prices and improved services as a result of the vigorous competition that began in the 1990s.”
The ACCC received 13 per cent fewer complaints about telecommunications services than the previous year, while Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman complaints fell 12 per cent to their lowest level in six years.
While complaints about mobile coverage and performance issues fell significantly over the year, excess data charges and NBN connection issues emerged as areas of concern, the ACCC noted.
Complaints about excess data charges rose by 27 per cent, while complaints relating to the NBN also increased during the year, reflecting its expanded rollout.
The ACCC identified three key consumer trends as emerging in 2013-14: consumers using their mobile phones more intensively, mobile and wireless subscriptions starting to reach saturation levels, and consumers continuing to download more data.
Investment in 4G mobile networks remained strong, with mobile network operators responding to consumer demand for high-quality mobile and wireless data services, the ACCC further found.
The reports additionally note the role the NBN will play in the structure of the Australian communications sector in coming years, with the ACCC observing NBN Co made a significant investment in fibre infrastructure during the year.
Sims noted NBN migration is not automatic, with it being important consumers understand what they need to do to switch over to the NBN.
“Once the NBN is available in your area, we encourage you to contact your preferred retail service provider to discuss the migration process and to ensure you continue to have access to landline phone and internet services,” he commented.
“If consumers don’t switch over to the NBN on time, they face the risk of losing their telephone or internet service at the cut-off date and a delay before they can be connected to the NBN.”