The Internet Industry Association (IIA) today launched a Broadband Index to track the price, value and availability of broadband services on a quarterly basis.
The index will also be used to ensure Australia meets its broadband targets by the year 2010 and remains globally competitive.
Created by Spectrum Strategy Consultants on behalf of the IIA, the Index found prices in the second half of 2006 were flat. Average broadband costs only dropped one percent in this quarter.
At lower access speeds, the index found operators offer multiple plans with no single provider dominating in terms of best value offered, suggesting that the market has reached a plateau based on current wholesale pricing.
However, at higher access speeds, choice is more constrained, with fewer standalone plans on offer. Plans are more likely to be tied to the take up of telephony services.
The IIA expect more standalone, higher speed (Cable and ADSL2+) plans to be introduced during 2007 under local loop unbundling (LLU) provisions.
Already many smaller providers offer standalone ADSL2+ plans that have not been captured by the Index.
IIA CEO Peter Coroneos said the index allows the organization to monitor Internet targets for broadband, and encourage the widespread deployment of higher speed, better value plans.
Spectrum partner, Justin Jameson, said the consultancy will track the broadband plans on offer every quarter going forward.
"Already, the index has shown that usage impacts the cost of broadband to customers more than speed," he said.
"This suggests that many customers could afford to upgrade to higher speed services if available."
The index analyses all of the Internet access plans offered by five major Australian ISPs including Telstra, Optus, Primus, iiNet and Unwired and calculates the average monthly cost of subscribing to each of them.
These five providers collectively service 75 percent of broadband users.
Last year the IIA published the first ever national targets for broadband for 2010.
The aim of this initiative was to develop a set of aspirational targets for both fixed and mobile broadband in order to provoke national discussion on how to achieve adequate broadband provision in Australia.
The targets were based on comparisons of broadband availability in other countries, the current status of broadband provision in Australia, the projected level of future demand for bandwidth and the range of technologies likely to be deployed in the next four years.
The targets stated: 80 percent of Australians should have access to 10Mbps downstream services and 1Mbps upstream services by 2010; 67 percent of Australians should have access to 24Mbps downstream services by 2010.