Australian internet access prices fall for fifth year

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Australian internet access prices fall for fifth year

ACCC comes out in favour of net neutrality.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has found internet access prices have fallen for the fifth consecutive year, down 2.7 percent in the past year.

However the consumer watchdog, which just released its Telecommunications Report 2011-12 (pdf), also noted the price decline was the smallest in the last half-decade.

The ACCC also came out swinging in favour of net neutrality, indicating it is being vigilant about anti-competitive practices by network operators.

It observed network operators are already using network management, which possibly includes speed discrimination in favour of voice, and against peer-to-peer traffic.

“This…could potentially be used to disadvantage competing third party services…. as has been observed overseas,” the report’s authors wrote.

“The ACCC is alert to any emerging issues arising from potentially anti-competitive network management practices.”

The report also examined the competitiveness of the internet service provision market. It noted the number of DSLAMs had grown by 2 percent, however this is largely in high density areas.

The report found in areas of lower population density, competition was marginal to non-existent, with Telstra the only carrier available in many areas.

Mobile wireless, and not fixed line internet, remained the dominant form of internet connectivity.

Australia has around 12 million active internet subscribers, and mobile wireless broadband accounted for 49 percent of all connections, compared to 38 percent for DSL.

Australians are also increasingly choosing higher speed connections, the report found. Basing its findings on ABS data, the ACCC reported subscriber numbers in the range of 24 Mbps to 100 Mbps grew 46 percent, while those subscribers choosing services capable of in excess of 100 Mbps were up 139 percent.

Significantly, growth in total download volumes had dropped since the last report. The ACCC indicated data growth was down nearly 20 percent, at 51 percent. This is compared to growth levels of 76 percent in 2010-11. 

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