Data from UK-based firm Point Data has ranked Australia the last out of 36 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries for entry level broadband affordability for the second quarter of 2019, according to shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland.
Point Data ranked 83 countries based on their median, entry level and average prices of broadband.
Rowland expressed the need for the Federal Government to intervene and ensure entry-level access to broadband is improved, citing an April 2019 speech by Rod Sims, ACCC chairman, as well as an August 2019 audit by Infrastructure Australia.
“It’s time the government stopped playing the role of a disingenuous bystander that is conveniently uninterested in the problems they have created, and instead demonstrated some leadership in addressing these challenges,” Rowland said.
At the time of his speech, Sims stated that the cost of accessing broadband to supply a 12 megabit service had increased close to the cost to supply a 50 megabit service, and believed the gap would narrow further.
Meanwhile, the audit claimed the diversified technology mix used for the NBN means different users may receive different speeds and may be paying more for the speed received.
“The irony of these failures is it has left NBN Co feeling it has no choice but to desperately scour the country for large enterprises to connect with fibre, in order to mitigate the structural damage to its cash flow caused by the reliance on ageing copper and HFC,” Rowland added.
In response, an NBN Co spokesperson pointed ARN towards a 2019 study commissioned by NBN Co and conducted by economics and data analytics advisory firm Alpha Beta, which claimed Australian broadband is the seventh most affordable out of 22 countries based on the average price of broadband as a share of household income.
“It’s also important to note that NBN’s wholesale broadband prices have not increased, not even by CPI [consumer price index], since our wholesale pricing was set around eight years ago,” the spokesperson added.
"This was [backed] up by Alpha Beta’s research which also found that since 2000, Australia’s cost of living has risen 63 per cent, while telecommunications prices fell six per cent.”