ACCC glad Telstra dominance of regional NBN mildly decreased

Australia's dominant telco still rules the roost in metropolitan areas, while Sky Muster satellite numbers and HFC connections have appeared in the consumer watchdog's quarterly report.

Telstra has ever so slightly slid backwards beyond the city in the latest Wholesale Market Indicators Report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), but the consumer watchdog is pleased with the trajectory.

According to the latest numbers ended December 31, 2016, 53.4 percent of regional customers use Telstra to connect to the National Broadband Network (NBN), compared to 55 percent of NBN users in the previous quarter. By contrast, Telstra continues to inch its market share upwards in the cities, with small increases taking its share to 41.7 percent in the inner cities, and 53.1 percent share in the outer suburbs.

"While still early days in the acquisition of services over the NBN, it is pleasing to note that competitors are making inroads into Telstra's traditional dominance of broadband services in regional areas," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said. "The report demonstrates that competitors to Telstra are providing 47 percent of NBN services to end users in the regions, which is considerably above their traditional share of customers in these areas.

"In metropolitan areas, however, Telstra's share of NBN services is around their traditional market share."

This edition of the Wholesale Report marks the first time NBN's Sky Muster satellite service and hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) connections have been reported.

In the last three months of the year, NBN halved the number of users on its interim satellite service, from 21,759 to 10,184, but the company has until February 28 to move the remainder of its interim satellite users onto its new Sky Muster service or fixed-wireless footprint.

At the end of February, the interim service will be switched off.

NBN revealed last month in Senate Estimates questions on notice that it had received 50,134 installation requests for Sky Muster services and completed orders of 29,760 between April, when services were launched, and the end of October.

The order lead time for services averaged 20 business days, or almost one month, between May and October.

There have been 31,007 reschedules of service installations since launch, caused mainly by technician issues, customer issues, weather, network issues, and non-standard installations, with just 18 premises visited by a technician unable to establish satellite line of sight.

By the end of 2016, NBN said it had 54,829 services connected to Sky Muster, with 36,553 choosing a 25/5Mbps plan, and 18,276 opting for the slower 12/1Mbps service.

The ACCC said 40 percent of all Sky Muster users went with Australian Private Networks as their ISP, with SkyMesh picking up 24 percent of the market and Harbour ISP being the only other provider to hit double figures, with 10.7 percent.

Of the 14,551 HFC connections in the report, consumers once again went for 25/5Mbps and 12/1Mbps plans in the highest numbers, on 35 and 30 percent respectively, with 19 percent going with 50/20Mbps, and 15.5 percent going for the speediest 100/40Mbps tier.

On Wednesday, NBN detailed the first areas that will have fibre-to-the-distribution-point technology instead of remaining on the unusable Optus HFC network.

NBN announced in September that it would be replacing the Optus HFC footprint with its FttDP network, with up to 700,000 premises to be covered by the new network technology, after a leaked NBN draft in November 2015 revealed that Optus' HFC network is not fully fit for purpose.

For the fixed fibre footprint, an uptick in users opting for 100/40Mbps plans was reported by NBN. In the final three months of 2016, 20,250 more fibre-to-the-premises connections were made in the 100/40Mbps tier, and 19,000 were reported for fibre-to-the-node connections.