Average real prices for mobile phone services dropped by 6.6 per cent during the past year, while fixed broadband prices fell by 1.5 per cent, according to the latest figures released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
These annual price decreases are slightly below the average price reductions experienced over the past five years, which were 7.5 per cent for mobile phone services and 2.3 per cent for fixed broadband.
While average prices continued to decline, the ACCC has observed a reduction in the number of affordable entry-level plans available on the market. These are being withdrawn in favour of higher priced plans with more inclusions.
“While competition and investment is giving consumers better value in terms of higher quality services for their money, consumers who do not want ‘bells and whistles’ are struggling to find cheap, entry level, fixed broadband and voice products,” explained ACCC chair Rod Sims.
The ACCC’s Communications Market Report for 2018-19 also found that Australians are spending less time talking on their mobile phones and downloading substantially more data than they were even a year ago.
The rapid take-up of streaming services such as Netflix, Stan, Optus Sport and Kayo Sports contributed to a 47 per cent jump in data downloads over the year, with fixed broadband services accounting for 88 per cent of all data downloaded.
The report shows how Australians’ communication methods are changing, as minutes spent using traditional voice services on mobile phones dropped for the first time over the year, reflecting the increasing use of social media and over-the-top services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Viber.
At the same time, the proportion of Australians who solely rely on mobile services for broadband is declining, dropping from 23 per cent in 2014 to 16 per cent in 2019, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
Unlimited data fixed broadband plans have increased from six per cent in 2014-15 to 57 per cent in 2018-19.
“More Australians are getting fixed broadband services at home as their data needs increase,” Mr Sims said.
“A jump to more than half of all plans offering unlimited plans in just five years really is a sign of the times.
“The quality of Australia’s communications services is also improving, allowing more of us to use and enjoy data-heavy activities like streaming in high definition.”
Consumer complaints to the ACCC and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman remain high, with many relating to connection and service quality issues.
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