Consumers are continuing to benefit from falling telecommunication prices, according to a new report tabled before Parliament by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The report concluded that consumers are now paying 2.2 per cent lower in real terms than in 2011/12, with prices 20 per cent lower than they were in 2006-07.

“Notably, real prices for fixed-to-mobile calls fell by over 10 per cent in 2011-12. Significant falls in these prices over the last five years are likely to be due to increased competition and ACCC reductions in the regulated wholesale price for mobile call termination,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

The report on telecommunications prices notes that it has become common for service providers to maintain the nominal price of their mobile and internet plans at certain price points. ‘Price changes’ are then made by changing the inclusions of those plans.

“The ACCC encourages consumers to shop around and consider whether they would be better off under a different offer or with a different service provider,” Mr Sims said.

For the first time, however, real prices for wireless internet services increased by 1.7 per cent in 2011-12. This price rise contrasts with significant falls in previous years, which helped drive strong take-up of wireless internet services. The turnaround in prices may reflect carriers’ response to the challenge of rapid traffic growth and the emerging risks of network congestion.

“In 2011-12, total data download volumes grew by 51 per cent. Like other infrastructure such as roads, telecommunications networks can get congested at busy times. Service providers will either need to invest in more capacity, adjust pricing or encourage their customers to shift their usage to less busy times in order to manage growing demands into the future,” he said.  

The reports showed that Telstra continued to strengthen its market share in mobile handsets and wireless broadband markets in 2011-12.
The competitive safeguards report also provides an overview of the regulatory activity in the sector.

The ACCC Telecommunications Reports 2011-12 are available at