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Australia highlights broadband consumer concerns

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has published a draft report detailing its market study of the communications sector, which includes 29 recommendations spanning a wide range of competition and consumer issues in communications markets. The year-long market study has seen the ACCC release an issues paper and consult with a wide range of industry participants and consumers, including considering 64 submissions and over 1,000 responses to a consumer questionnaire and hosting a two-day industry forum. The market study found that there is strong price competition between the major service providers despite considerable concentration in both fixed and mobile retail markets. “Overall, we consider that our regulatory framework remains fit for purpose in addressing current and emerging issues, and in ensuring that the long-term benefits of competition are realised. However, the study has highlighted a number of areas of consumer concerns which will benefit from some immediate actions,” ACCC chair, Rod Sims says. “The key recommendations stemming from the report are on connection and activation issues as consumers transition to the NBN [National Broadband Network], NBN pricing and speed claim issues, the competitiveness of smaller service providers and issues flowing from new technology such as 5G.” The ACCC has two initiatives to improve the accuracy and clarity of information on broadband plans – guidance to retailers on broadband speed advertising claims has been published recently, and its broadband performance monitoring and reporting programme.

The market study has found that the competitiveness of smaller service providers may be impeded by their access to key wholesale inputs used to offer services on the NBN, such as aggregation services. While these wholesale markets may evolve, the ACCC is considering how to ensure these inputs are available to smaller providers on competitive terms. The ACCC expects to release a final report in early 2018. Read more

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