Broadband subscriptions in Australia grew by 109 percent for the 12 months ended March this year, according to a report by the federal
government, which claims its telecommunications reforms have been
a boon for the industry.
As combative Telstra chief executive officer Sol Trujillo prepared for a day of briefings tomorrow
to announce the findings of his strategic review of the company's
operations -- with the impact of regulatory settings on the business certain to be high on the agenda -- the Australian Communications and Media Authority
(ACMA) issued a report titled Consumer Benefits Resulting From
Australia's Telecommunications Sector.
The sector enjoyed a boost of more than AU$12 billion in the 12
months to March 2005, according to the report, which cites
regulatory policy, government subsidies and the Australia
Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) intervention in
broadband pricing among reasons for the boost.
"These findings reflect the importance of the
telecommunications sector to the Australian economy, and in
particular the importance of getting the regulatory settings
right, including measures to promote competition," said Minister
for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator
Coonan also claimed the reforms helped benefit the small
business sector by AU$200 milllion, increase investment by AU$500
million, and create 23,000 jobs.
"Moreover, ACMA's report shows the incredible impact the
government's AU$157.8 million Higher Bandwidth Incentive Scheme
(HiBIS) is having on the rate of broadband take-up," said
The volume of data downloads increased by 230 percent over the
12 month period, during a time when prices per gigabyte fell by
50 percent for broadband services, according to the report.
"The report found that towns with populations between 800 and
2,000 were the main beneficiaries of faster broadband speeds,"
"In the past year, more than 800 regional and rural towns have
been connected to terrestrial broadband services, such as ADSL
and wireless, as a direct result of HiBIS."
Acting ACMA chair Lyn Maddock also claimed government reforms
to the sector were responsible for many of the findings.
"Consumers continue to receive substantial benefits from
telecommunications reforms," she said.
"The net benefit to the economy is estimated as AU$1.97 billion
in 2004-05, with consumers benefiting from new types of services
and lower costs over an increasing geographical spread."