Recent price increases by the three biggest telco companies mean millions of Australians will be paying more for their mobile phone plans.
These three telco companies collectively hold 87 percent of the total retail mobile phone market and 95 percent of the post-paid market.
“Our analysis shows that consumers will now be left paying significantly more for a range of mobile phone plans at Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said. “The behaviour of the three big telcos would suggest they are not concerned about losing customers to rivals.”
The companies have also effectively increased pre-paid plans by shortening expiry periods, meaning customers need to recharge more often.
The consumer watchdog is encouraging consumers to compare the prices and features of the three predominant companies against smaller providers that re-sell services on the major operators’ networks.
ACCC’s suggestion to move to smaller providers with comparable data inclusions could save customers between $5 to $25 (US$3.75 to $18.74) per month.
“Small providers offer cheaper alternatives for consumers,” ACCC said. “Although their plans usually don’t include extras such as access to content, their voice calls, SMS, and data packages are similar to those offered by the three networks operators.”
In the past 12 months, Telstra’s post-paid plans have increased between $5 to $15 a month, while its pre-paid plans have increased by up to 50 percent. Optus plans have increased by $6 across the board, and Vodafone plans have increased by up to $40.
The watchdog also suggests that consumers check how much data they typically use and choose a plan that covers the data amount required.
According to ACCC’s latest Internet Activity Report, the average mobile phone customer consumes less than 15gb of data per month, meaning many users could save under a different plan.
“We suspect many customers who have recently had their mobile provider justify a price increase with higher data usage would prefer the previously available lower monthly fee in exchange for a lower data allowance.
“Before changing over, we encourage consumers to compare different providers’ geographic coverage, and consider their individual needs, as not all providers offer the same coverage,” Sims said.
Last year, Optus had decided to freeze the prices on all their mobile phone plans until the end of 2020.
“We want phone and internet providers to continue to waive late fees, freeze debt collection action, and assist struggling households so that Australians can keep connected,” ACCC CEO Teresa Corbin told NewsCorp last year.