NBN affordability becoming an issue for pensioners

The cost of basic NBN plans is becoming an affordability issue for people on lower incomes.

NBN affordability a growing issue

The cost of basic NBN plans is becoming an affordability issue for people on lower incomes, according to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims.

Speaking at the CommsDay Summit in Sydney, Mr Sims said that NBN plans were now more expensive than what most consumers pay for equivalent ADSL alternatives.

For around $50 per month, a customer could and still can get an ADSL internet and voice plan with a 100 gigabyte (GB) quota, or pay $60 for an unlimited quota plan.

“We are now observing prices of low-speed NBN plans offered to new customers that are at least $10 per month higher than what consumers paid for equivalent ADSL plans,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC attributes this to new NBN Co wholesale pricing introduced in the past six months.

The wholesale cost of accessing the NBN to supply a basic 12-megabit service has increased substantially and is now close to the cost of a 50-megabit service.

“There is a fundamental question of fairness here for those on low incomes,” Mr Sims said.

The Australian Greens’ digital rights spokesperson Jordon Steele-John addressed this issue last month when launching his party’s policy on the NBN.

"The reality is that Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to having access to reliable, affordable and high quality internet services," Mr Steele-John said.

"Our promise is to make quality telecommunications affordable for all Australians.”

Part of the Greens’ NBN policy platform includes spending $1.3 billion to establish a federal telecommunication concession. That concession would provide $60 a quarter to all holders of a DHS Health Care Card and will replace the limited Telephone Allowance and fund an NBN migration program for vulnerable consumers to help close the digital divide.

Mr Sims also stressed the importance of the ACCC’s current wholesale service standards inquiry, which aims to bring about improvements in the time taken by NBN Co to connect new customers and fix faults, and to keep scheduled appointments or provide compensation for missing appointments.

“If the wholesale standards are high, retail service providers can offer strong service commitments to their customers. However, if any of these activities are not up to scratch, retailers and, more importantly, the consumer will bear the pain,” Mr Sims said.

“We also believe NBN Co’s entry-level services should be anchored to existing ADSL pricing. This is only fair to consumers because they have no choice but to move to the NBN as their existing services are being withdrawn.

“But more importantly, consumers [who] already want the higher speeds that the NBN makes possible also stand to benefit from pricing that reflects the additional value.”

Are you struggling to pay for your NBN service? How much extra does your plan cost than the previous ADSL plan? Are you satisfied with the NBN in your area? Should people on low and fixed incomes like Age Pensioners receive a concession for their internet service?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    10th Apr 2019
    Who would have thought that the Liberals, by changing Labor's first world NBN for a third world NBN would give us a more expensive fourth rate model.
    Old Geezer
    10th Apr 2019
    Fourth rate? If my house sitters use up all my internet and it slows down it is still too fast for me.
    10th Apr 2019
    Take a seat on the verandah with a cool mint julep, OG - you've earned the right not to fash yersel' in yer old age...
    10th Apr 2019
    OG, I am glad that one person in Australia has a better service than anyone else.
    10th Apr 2019
    So true Captain, the LNP are fast becoming anti technology everything. They are so outdated and out of touch with everything, they stuff up everything they touch.
    Ted Wards
    10th Apr 2019
    I think it's time that people are made aware that NBN is one type of way to access the internet, but not the only way. WIFI prices and plans have fallen drastically and will not be disappearing because wifi is what is used to get the signal from the NBN cable to your router. NBN is a huge con and the advertising is completely misleading. Your phones will not work without a wifi signal even with a sim card!
    Old Geezer
    10th Apr 2019
    Agree some of those WIFI devices as just as fast and relatively cheap now too. $15GB for $10 is cheap.
    10th Apr 2019
    Been looking at this for the (last) move - wi-fi is half the speed.... hmmmm.. what is most important is a reliable connection, and the old wire to the house is the problem.
    Old Geezer
    10th Apr 2019
    My internet and phone are wireless NBN which means I have a dish on my roof instead of using the old wire.

    I also have both Telstra and Optus WIFI devices that I use when touring around the country and both are as good as my home NBN.
    10th Apr 2019
    Still on ADSL2 the NBN was due last February. So much for the Libs promise of faster cheaper and available than the Labour plan.
    Cant trust this mob on any anything they say.
    I might wait for the 5G network and get on to a wireless service.
    10th Apr 2019
    4b2 you are so right they ruined the NBN we know why and of coarse they stopped the Chinese 5G coming in to the country, security or not one of their mates the Chinese have the port of Darwin for 99yrs though makes you think
    Old Geezer
    10th Apr 2019
    My internet and phone is less than half the cost it was before I got the NBN.
    10th Apr 2019
    Prove it - back your false comments up. My sister in next suburb, on pension, had to buy a newer modem, connection is worse and often comes to my place to use her computer. (I am not connected to NBN yet). She did go to a cheaper carrier who was absolutely hopeless (you get what you pay for). Went back to original carrier, though bill is considerably dearer. I am a member of a local Seniors Club and almost without exception, everyone has problems with NBN. Many wait to go to the Club Offices to use their laptop. It is the number one issue of members.
    Old Geezer
    10th Apr 2019
    I now get a package of internet, free calls, CND, and message bank for less than it used to cost me for ADSL alone. I now have no lock in contract. I also have free WIFI as well when I am out and about.

    I have no issues and get told of scheduled maintenances.

    So glad we have such good internet thanks to the NBN.
    Old Geezer
    10th Apr 2019
    I also got a new modem, personal video recorder and phone included in the package too.
    10th Apr 2019
    My area still not connected to NBN. However, had NBN technicians in our street abut 5 months ago who dug up TWO houses for connection to NBN. Other 18 houses not touched. Yet houses in next suburb were connected 5 months ago and our local paper has been inundated with customers with people having far worse connection than previous. Pensioners hugely hit - have to buy new modem, and monthly prices are far more expensive.
    24th Apr 2019
    NBN I is a rip off .If Some companies do not charge for modem. Modem with Tesltra was free and so was the technician who installed the NBN due to pensioner concession.
    10th Apr 2019
    All cost in Australia are out of control and the government can't blame the Unions .It must be corporate greed.
    10th Apr 2019
    Yes, I’m still with the same provider but since I had to join nbn the connection is not as reliable or quick and it is costing me more!! Talk about a third world facility...

    10th Apr 2019
    The part I am not understanding is where the NBN has anything to do with those who access the system. NBN is a wholesale provider which onsells to a retail provider such as Telstra, Optus, Dodo and others who, in turn sell the access to us, the public. I understand that the NBN may have raised costs which will be passed on but the speed depends on how much bandwidth the retailer buys.

    I am a cynical person and it seems too much of a coincidence that this subject is now being raised just prior to an election. Just this morning we saw three retired firefighters telling us that climate change is responsible for the fires around the world. No mention of back burning to ease the ferocity of fires. Coincidence?

    10th Apr 2019
    NBN another govt lemon
    10th Apr 2019
    Another garbage story - the NBN/Internet charge MAY be higher then ADSL but you're not paying the line fee you had to pay for the phone service. Unless you have gone to a much higher NBN plan your total cost should be lower.
    10th Apr 2019
    This story sounds pretty empty to me.
    First thing is NBN is cheap and you get 10 Mbbps on the lowest plan. Second thing is I see retirees AND their partners with the latest iPhones and using them like they cost nix to run. You may want to look at this before you get on the bandwagon of BS Ben. This is not a story with any merit.
    10th Apr 2019
    Looks like I am one of the lucky ones. Tried to get NBN, but my former supplier said it was not in my area. Contrary to the NBN map showing that it was available. Still on the ADSL2, which comes through the phone line, just like the NBN. Even have a Telstra Tower, with no obstruction in clear sight, less than a kilometre away.
    My next connection to the NBN will be available at my gravesite apparently.
    10th Apr 2019
    In June last year I joined Harbour ISP as my internet provider at a charge of $49.00 per month for 250gb of data. They are an Australian company based in Mudgee NSW and provided a satisfactory service. Earlier this year I was advised of a price increase to $65.00 per month from April 1st with not an explanation as to why and also not one added ounce of value to myself - apart from the dreaded wallet drain.
    So I have joined Westnet on a Seniors plan for $39.99 per month for 50gb of data and that is ample for what I use the internet for.
    It never ceases to amaze me that organissations cannot and do not comply with the original agreement set at time of the original purchase.Greed is sweeping the world from every direction and this is the way it's going to be hereon....pray not!

    Having listened to both Federal parties Budget plans, what scares me is what Labor have NOT told us as to what they propose to do and don't forget that they will be announcing their own budget in September ( should they win ) and that will be the start of some sweeping changes aimed at retirees back pockets as they have a huge dislike toward the retiree sector.
    We wait with baited breath!
    10th Apr 2019
    We were one of the first to get NBN and it seems one of the few for whom the speed is faster than before. However, Optus wanted to charge a lot more. Many phone calls later we negotiated the same monthly price for phone and internet. They also sent us a free Fetch box. The point is that nothing is standard which leads to unfair anomalies.

    10th Apr 2019
    What is the role of the ACCC here? Good comments from Rod Sims, but what's the point of that if he (in that senior role) can't get the outcomes???
    Crap from Greens as usual, especially about their usual ideas of targeting hand-outs to fix issues. The underlying problems should be addressed - as Rod Sims has indicated.

    11th Apr 2019
    I am in the act and on the transact system thank goodness i dont have to change to nbn because most people i speak to are not happy with nbn i think it is wrong that you are forced to go to nbn this is not a communist country so why are we dictated to by our politicians. If we keep heading in the direction that the polies are steering us we may come under Sharia and not sure how they would handle it.probaly ban the internet.
    11th Apr 2019
    Don't fall for this crap about the NBN providing a poor service. You do realise that they have just gone over the 5 million mark in premises activated and the vast majority have a great service.

    If it was as bad as some people say the complaints through social media would break the internet. I know you said "because most people i speak to are not happy", but my experience is very different. Recently over two years my wife and I were house sitting around the East Coast of Australia, around 30 different house sits and only one place had an annoying internet connection. I'm a BIG internet user, online way more then I should and notice slow downs/connection issues quickly and I just haven't seen any major problems (bar one). Speeds have been mostly 30 ish, one place we get 95.

    We have moved into our new home, 18 months now on a 50 plan and get 47 day, night, all day, everyday - connecting was a pain, took a loooong time but now works faultlessly.

    By the way I'm not sprouting how good this government, not interested in the political crap, they're all pri***.

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