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The state of it: mm report takes close look at NZ tel sector

New Zealand’s telecommunications sector is continuing to change at rapid pace, according to the results of the latest telecommunications monitoring report from the Commerce Commission.

Released today, the annual report analyses the state of New Zealand’s telecommunications markets.

Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale says the industry continues to change rapidly, with data consumption accelerating and mobile calling set to overtake that on fixed lines.

“New Zealand is well served, when we compare ourselves internationally, with regard to the ability for people to participate in the digital world – that is, to access government services, internet banking, news and social networking,” Gale explains.

“The World Internet Project reports 91% of New Zealanders consider themselves active internet users,” he says.

“Our cheapest broadband services, at $75 per month, are 5% below OECD averages and fixed wireless broadband is available at $55 per month in 4G areas. We are also world leaders in affordable, low-user pay-as-you-go mobile plans,” Gale adds.

“Contributing to economic growth, we now have numerous retail service providers marketing ultra-fast broadband on fibre. The prices for our higher-speed higher-data fibre services are close to OECD averages and well below those in Australia,” he says.

As of 31 March 2016, ultra-fast fibre was available to 922,000 premises with 197,000 connected.

According to the report, in the copper broadband retail market, prices are more dispersed. Wholesale broadband prices are $4 less now than 18 months ago, but the most popular voice and broadband retail bundles are generally more expensive than at that time, albeit with higher data caps.

“The trend, globally and in New Zealand, has been for consumers to get increasingly more data for their dollar whether via mobile or broadband plans,” says Gale.

“We wouldn’t have expected copper broadband retail bundles to be more expensive now than they were in 2014, given the drop in wholesale costs,” he explains.

“We are keen to better understand the drivers behind this price rise and will keep an eye on competition in this particular market. It will pay for consumers to shop around.”

The report found new paid video streaming services took off in popularity from March 2015, with various retailers and Chorus reporting significant increases in data traffic to these sites. Gale says the increased traffic noticeably slowed some broadband services at peak times, which led to extra investment in capacity to resolve the issue.

Other highlights in the report include:

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