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Affordability of communications services

Digital technologies are transforming how we interact, engage as a community and how businesses and governments operate. Communications services are now essential for everyday living and a primary means of accessing information, employment, markets and key services.

The BCAR’s Trends and drivers in the affordability of communications services for Australian households working paper builds on analysis in the Productivity Commission’s Telecommunications and Universal Service Obligation inquiry to provide a deeper look at the trends in household expenditure on communications services and pricing and inclusions for both broadband and mobile services.

Key findings:

  • The affordability of communications services for households has improved in aggregate and for most vulnerable groups over recent years. Consumers are getting better value as prices stay the same or fall, while product inclusions increase.
  • Markets for communications services are responding to strong consumer demand and different tastes by providing greater choice and products at a range of price points. Mobile customers are generally well served with significant choice and options.
  • For home broadband services, the roll out of the NBN is improving choice and reducing prices for regional consumers.
  • Australia compares well internationally on affordability measures for mobile services and is improving for fixed broadband. However, better data and comparable methodology are needed for a robust cross-country comparison of the affordability of broadband services.

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