Tuesday, November 09, 2010

New Zealand - Telecoms charges are significantly higher than other OECD countries

[nbr] While the 2025 taskforce is working on ideas to close the economic gap with Australia, in one area New Zealand is streets ahead – the costs of communication.

While not a surprise to those of us paying the bills the Commerce Commission agrees that New Zealanders pay too much for fixed line communications and mobile broadband.

A report benchmarking New Zealand prices for fixed line and mobile telecommunications services against international prices has just been released.

It shows that high monthly line rental charges and, to a lessor extent, relatively high fixed line to mobile call prices, means New Zealand ranks poorly in the OECD benchmarking for fixed line voice services.

The report also indicated the price of mobile broadband was high across all levels of use and significantly higher in the high use basket – more than 8GB.

New Zealand prices are almost triple those of Sweden, where it is cheapest.

Compared with Australia, New Zealand consumers pay significantly more for mobile voice and SMS plans for medium and high usage.

For the OECD’s 300 calls per month mobile basket, the cheapest price for Australia is less than half that for New Zealand.

Australia also has cheaper broadband in every mobile usage basket. In the 200MB basket, the price in New Zealand was almost double Australia’s.

For fixed line broadband, New Zealand is cheaper than Australia for low and medium use – 2GB-10GB – but 31% more expensive for high use – 40GB plus.

Telecommunications commissioner Ross Patterson said having no alternative to a plan with a fixed price for unlimited local calls favours those consumers who make a lot and disadvantages those who make few.

“Consumers making few monthly calls effectively cross-subsidise consumers who make a large number of calls,” Dr Patterson said.

“Although the commission is cautious about drawing definitive conclusions from limited fix line broadband benchmarking, it appears that the price of broadband in New Zealand for low and medium users is in line with that observed in other countries,” he said.

NZ pays three-times more for mobile broadband

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