Affordability of communications services

Digital technologies are transforming how we interact as a community and how businesses and governments operate. Communications services are essential for everyday living and a primary means of accessing information, employment, markets and key services. Affordable communications services are critical for digital inclusion but assessing what is 'affordable' is complex due to diversity of Australian experiences and wants.

The Bureau of Communications, Arts and Regional Research (BCARR) has released 4 papers to date, creating measures that monitor and report on the affordability of communications services.

The initial working paper 'Trends and drivers in the affordability of communications services for Australian households' (2017) builds on analysis from the Productivity Commission's Telecommunications inquiry and Universal Service Obligation inquiry to assess trends in household expenditure, pricing and inclusions for broadband and mobile services.

The second working paper, 'Affordability of communications services for low income households' (2020) updated market trends from the initial paper and created data use case studies to estimate basic data needs.

The third working paper, 'Australian households and the affordability of telecommunications' (2023) uses econometric modelling to identify the demographic and socioeconomic factors impacting household spending on telecommunications services and their risk of potential digital exclusion.

The fourth report, ‘Telecommunications affordability and access for First Nations households: Learnings from the HILDA survey’ (2024) is an extension of our third working paper and analyses trends in telecommunications affordability and access for First Nations households. 

Looking to the future, strong consumer demand for telecommunications services is anticipated to continue. The outlook for affordability will depend on a number of factors including regulatory settings, technology developments, competitive pressures and broader income growth.

Find out more