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Official advice: review your phone and internet plans

March 26, 2014 Headline News, Technology No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59The constantly shifting phone and internet landscape in Australia makes it essential to review your phone and internet plans, to ensure you are getting the best deal. That’s the word from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Following the tabling of its Annual Telecommunications Reports for 2012-13 in Parliament, the ACCC is urging consumers to review their phone and internet arrangments. Plans are increasingly complex, with suppliers bundling phone, data and SMS into various packages or splitting them up. Simply doing nothing may mean you are getting less value year by year.

Comparing plans, however, is not easy. It’s a bit like travel insurance – another complex sector where comparing plans is notoriously difficult.

“With the widespread use of included value plans in the telecommunications sector, we urge all customers to take the time to review their plans to see if they are getting the best deal,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“Customers should consider asking service providers for a Critical Information Summary to make it easier to compare different plans on a like-for-like basis.” eGlobal Media-ÃÇÁ

While the downward trend in prices continued for most services, the pace of price reductions has slowed in recent years. Some service providers have changed the amount of calls, SMS and data included in their plans rather than the price of their plans, the ACCC confirms.

This means that some consumers might be receiving less included value for the same price point. It can also make it difficult for consumers to know if they have the best plan to suit their needs.

The reports show that competition has led to many consumer benefits in the sector over the past 15 years, including lower prices and a wider variety of services and devices.

In 2012-13 prices fell overall by around 1.5% in real terms. The most dramatic price reductions were for international calls from a landline telephone, which fell 21.2%, and calls to a mobile from a landline telephone, which fell 11.7%.

The reports also show that non-price factors, such as network quality and customer service, are also becoming important sources of competition. As a result, the ACCC says it has seen strong investment in mobile networks and a renewed focus on customer satisfaction.

“It is pleasing to see a significant reduction in the number of complaints reported to the ACCC and Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman this year, but more work still needs to be done,” Sims said.

The reports also provide further detail on key developments in telecommunications markets and outline the ACCC’s regulatory activities during the year as well as its future regulatory focus.

“The telecommunications industry is in a long period of transition brought about by technological developments, changes in consumer usage and structural change. In this environment, ensuring competitive access to legacy networks, establishing the regulatory framework for the NBN and overseeing Telstra’s structural separation will remain key priorities for a number of years,” Sims concluded.

Written by : Peter Needahm

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