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Telco sector looking rosy for consumers

Paul Brislen, Editor. 19 December 2018, 8:05 am

Data use is up dramatically, texting is no longer a thing and voice calls from a landline are on their way out if the latest Commerce Commission annual report into the telecommunications sector is anything to go by.

The report shows that fibre is well and truly on its way to becoming the standard connection for homes and businesses around the country, complemented by fast growth in mobile use as a voice replacement.

In the last decade, the number of voice calling minutes on a landline has fallen from just over 5 billion minutes (2008-9) to just over 1.1 billion minutes while mobile minutes have more than doubled over the same time period - from 4.24 to 9.34 billion minutes a year. Voice calling in that time has increased somewhat, although that doesn't take into account population growth.

On top of that we must add those who make calls (voice and video) via third party apps, which aren't captured in the report.

Data is also a story of growth - fixed line data use has jumped from less than a gigabyte to 172GB per month per line. The mobile sector only manages an average of 2GB per user per month - a figure that is sure to come under threat when 5G networks are launched.

Interestingly, the number of fixed wireless connections has increased dramatically in the past couple of years.

In 2015-6 there were 27,000 fixed wireless connections in New Zealand, but that figure jumped hugely to 122,000 the following year and now sits at 165,000. This is largely due to Spark going toe-to-toe with Chorus and calling the lines company's bluff on migrating customers off Chorus's copper network onto Spark's own fixed wireless service, which saves Spark a large amount in terms of line rental.

In terms of pricing New Zealand finally does quite well. In some areas we are well ahead of both the OECD average and Australian pricing, although we do pay more than Aussies for high-end mobile plans. However, there are advantages to not living in Australia which would appear not to have been taken into account by the Commission in the production of this report.

Now if only the telcos could work on their customer service scores, the country would finally have an opportunity to move on to other matters.

The Commerce Commission's full report can be found here.


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