Monday, 08 April 2019 18:29

NBN Co prices affecting plan affordability, says ACCC chief Featured

Rod Sims: "NBN Co’s entry-level services should be anchored to existing ADSL pricing." Rod Sims: "NBN Co’s entry-level services should be anchored to existing ADSL pricing." Courtesy YouTube

The pricing introduced by NBN Co in the last six months has led to the cost of basic NBN plans becoming an affordability issue for Australians on lower incomes, the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Rod Sims, says.

He told a conference in Sydney on Monday that NBN plans were more expensive than the equivalent ADSL plans, pointing out that an ADSL Internet and voice plan with 100Gb of data cost about $50 a month.

And, Sims added, an ADSL plan with unlimited data was available for about $60.

The wholesale cost of accessing the NBN to supply a 12Mbps service — which many ISPs no longer offer — had increased by leaps and bounds and was now almost the cost of a 50Mbps service. "There is a fundamental question of fairness here for those on low incomes,” Sims said.

The ACCC has an ongoing inquiry into wholesale service standards which aims to lessen the time taken by NBN Co to connect new customers and fix faults.

“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,” 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This is only fair to consumers because they have no choice but to move to the NBN as their existing services are being withdrawn.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 that already want the higher speeds that the NBN makes possible also stand to benefit from pricing that reflects the additional value.”

Sims reiterated the ACCC's view that competition considerations should have greater weight in managing and allocating spectrum.

“We know that spectrum is a scarce but essential resource for operators. The amount of spectrum held by an operator is a key factor that will determine the price, quality and coverage of its services. As such, it is a critical driver of competition in downstream markets,” he said.

“We must all understand that in bidding for spectrum, companies will have as much incentive to buy spectrum to keep it from their competitors as they do to use it. It is completely naïve not to realise this.”


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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