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Australians pick cheaper broadband, quality over fast speeds

A poll by research group Roy Morgan has found that Australians overwhelmingly choose a cheaper deal for broadband rather than faster connection speeds, while an Australian Industry group survey shows businesses are more concerned about quality and reliability.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Speed of broadband services ranks low in the priorities of both Australian businesses and consumers, according to two surveys released today.

An Australian Industry Group survey of 170 businesses in the manufacturing, services, construction, and mining industries released today showed that 75 percent of respondents see high-speed broadband as being important to their business, but the quality and cost of the service rates higher than the download and upload speeds. A total of 40 percent of the users said that quality of service is important, while 30 percent ranked costs and access pricing highest, with 15 percent focusing on upload and download speeds.

Australian businesses are patient, however, with just 11 percent listing the rollout timeframe as being the most important issue.

As most businesses focused on the cost for services, Ai Group CEO Innes Willox welcomed the new Coalition government's promise to look to reduce the cost of services on the National Broadband Network (NBN).

"Affordability is also a key issue, particularly for small to medium enterprises. While we welcome the new government's focus on reducing access prices, we will be looking to the reviews to provide more detail on how this commitment will be met," he said in a statement.

The cost of the plan, not speed, is also the deciding factor for consumers choosing a broadband connection, a Roy Morgan poll of over 1,000 Australians that have signed up to a new ISP in the last 12 months has shown.

The decision on which ISP to go with is centred on a cheaper or better deal, according to 46 percent of respondents, while 19 percent want a faster connection speed. A total of 14 percent want to bundle their broadband with other services, while 14 percent are influenced by word of mouth.

Just 7 percent chose an ISP based on unlimited downloads. TPG and Dodo, which both offer unlimited download plans, overwhelmingly had customers choose their services based on price, at 74 percent for TPG and 70 percent for Dodo.

Optus had approximately half of its customers sign on for price, while only 27 percent of Telstra's customers came over because of the price.

Roy Morgan's general manager for media and communications, George Pesutto, said that it isn't always about price, however.

"While Dodo is also associated with cheaper deals, our research shows that consumers choose other ISPs for other reasons: Telstra for bundling other products and connection speed, iiNet for dissatisfaction with previous ISP and availability in area, and Optus for bundling and other incentives," he said.

Given the NBN has yet to reach a critical mass stage in its rollout, many residents would not be able to choose a higher speed than what is already available. Residents may soon find themselves competing against businesses to get onto the NBN first, however. The Ai Group has recommended, among other things, that greater priority should be given to rolling out the new infrastructure to "poorly served businesses and industrial estates in outer suburban and regional areas."

The group has also recommended that affordable access to fibre to the premises be made available to businesses.

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