New Zealand blitzes high-end broadband affordability

While Australia beats its Kiwi cousins at lower and mid tiers.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: ComCom

The New Zealand Commerce Commission (ComCom) has found the nation's 900Mbps broadband plans are well below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average price for such plans, while otherwise, New Zealand pays more for its broadband than the OECD average.

In its Annual Telecommunications Monitoring Report 2019 [PDF] released on Thursday, ComCom used a quartet of services -- a 10Mbps service with a data cap of 60GB to represent an entry-level service, a 30Mbps connection with 150GB was deemed suited for a medium user, high users have an unlimited or 500GB data cap at 100Mbps, and ultra-high users were selected as having a 900Mbps connection with unlimited or 500GB of data -- to make pricing comparisons against the OECD average, and Australia. The comparison was made for a voice and broadband bundle, and a broadband only line.

At the ultra-high level, a plan including voice in New Zealand cost NZ$90, compared to NZ$124 for the OECD, while most damning for Australia was that it wasn't able to deliver those speeds. On broadband only, the OECD average blew out to NZ$175 while the NZ number was NZ$85.

For high users with a 100Mbps connection, a plan with voice in New Zealand cost NZ$90, Australia cost NZ$92, and the OECD average was 20% cheaper at NZ$75. In Australia, the price for a broadband-only plan remained at NZ$92, while both New Zealand and the OECD dropped NZ$7 to NZ$83 and NZ$68 respectively.

At the two lower levels, New Zealand and Australia switched places. For medium users, a voice and 30Mbps broadband plan cost NZ$75 for Kiwis, NZ$61 for Aussies, and averaged NZ$67 across the OECD. Once again for broadband-only plans, the Australian price remained constant at NZ$61, while New Zealand dropped to NZ$70, and the OECD average fell to NZ$57.

With entry-level plans, Australia was lower than both New Zealand and the OECD, with a 10Mbps plan with voice costing NZ$51 in Australia, and NZ$63 in New Zealand and across the OECD. For a broadband-only plan, the cost was NZ$41 in Australia, NZ$53 in New Zealand, and NZ$51 was the OECD average.

ComCom said the OECD average price had dropped significantly for medium and high users in the past year.

A comparison was only run against Australia and the OECD average on mobile broadband. On this measurement, New Zealand was always more expensive than Australia, ranging from 33% to 263% depending on the data amount selected, yet always cheaper than the OECD average.

Elsewhere, the report said as of the end of September, New Zealand had 880,000 premises connected to fibre broadband, up 31% compared to last year, while copper-based connections fell 23% to 581,000.

"New Zealanders are increasingly moving to the fibre broadband network. This trend is set to continue with nearly three-quarters of a million homes and businesses yet to switch in areas where fibre is available to be connected," Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said.

In terms of market share for fixed broadband, Spark has 41% of the market, Vodafone claims 24%, Vocus has 13%, Trustpower with 6%, and 2degrees sitting on 5%.

For mobile, Spark and its Skinny and Digital Island subbrands have 40% of the market, Vodafone has 37%, 2degrees holds 22% of the market, and MVNO customers only accounts for 1% of the market.

Earlier this week, ComCom began a consultation on ensuring users of fibre and fixed wireless networks would still be able to call the nation's 111 emergency number during power outages.

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