Friday, 22 July 2011 11:25

Affordability questioned as first NBN phone & internet offers announced


Peak consumer communications group ACCAN has questioned the affordability of the NBN for ordinary consumers as prices for the first commercial offerings hit the market.

ACCAN says prices for services on the NBN released yesterday by retail service provider Internode are comparable to current offers but affordability remains a key concern for consumers.

Internode's entry-level bundle on the NBN costs $59.95 a month including phone and 30GB a month of downloads, which ACCAN says is comparable to existing offers (see table below) - but with higher speeds. However, this is very much an entry level plan offering only 12Mbps download speed.

Internode's $59.95 a month plan has a port speed of 12Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream and 30GB of data. This is the same price as it charges for its Easy Naked ADSL2+ voice and broadband bundle with 30GB of data.

Prices then rise to unaffordable levels for many consumers, according to port speed - 25/5, 50/20 and 110/40Mbps - and data quota - 200GB, 300GB and 1TB, peaking at $189.95 per month for 1TB at 100/40Mbps.

ACCAN Chief Executive Officer Teresa Corbin said, 'The pricing structure announced by Internode has generated huge interest because, for the first time, we have some information about what prices consumers will actually pay for phone and internet services on the NBN.'

ACCAN says Internode CEO Simon Hackett has raised concerns about factors affecting prices for consumers and has made suggestions about how prices could be reduced.

'We're pleased to see that entry-level pricing for bundles is comparable but those who want super-fast speeds will pay more. At present, the speed and reliability of your internet service depends very much on where you live, how far your home is from the exchange, and how many people are connected to the exchange.

'Even in metropolitan areas, internet speeds can be very slow and there are few people in Australia who are currently getting speeds of Internode's entry-level available on the NBN [of 12MBps]. One of the objectives of building a NBN is that Australians everywhere will have access to reliable, fast broadband speeds,' said Ms Corbin

'Our organisation's key concern is that everyone - no matter where they live - has access to affordable and accessible communications services. We believe the NBN will provide that access but affordability remains key.'

ACCAN says that other providers will likely offer phone-only services on the NBN and says those who don't want the internet will be very keen to find out how much the cost for that will be.

'ACCAN will work to ensure that the current low-income affordability measures are translated to the new environment to ensure universal service obligations for access to telecommunications continue. The last thing we want is for the NBN to leave people financially worse off.'

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