Phone companies offering 'better value for money', but service a concern

Data-only plans for mobiles remain expensive, the competition watchdog says.
MONIQUE FORD/FAIRFAX NZ

Data-only plans for mobiles remain expensive, the competition watchdog says.

Spending on telecommunications services grew for the first time in four years, last year, as spending on mobiles overtook that on fixed-lines.

Broadband and mobile prices in New Zealand compared favourably with overseas, telecommunications commissioner Stephen Gale said, though there was "plenty of room for improvement in customer service".

Another blackspot was that data-only plans for mobiles remained expensive, compared with overseas, the commission found in an annual survey.

Total telecommunications spending in New Zealand rose to $5.2 billion in 2016, from $5.1b in 2015, it said.

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Spending on mobiles, at $2.7b, surpassed the $2.5b spent on fixed-line services, with the amount of time people spent talking on fixed-line phones plummeting by 46 per cent over the past seven years.

Despite the higher spending, Gale said consumers were getting more value for money.

"The cost of internet use has dropped over the last year with up to four times the data included at the same price points," he said.

Those moving to fibre-optic ultrafast broadband (UFB) generally got "all the speed they need", while congestion was also reducing on the copper network, he said.

Network company Chorus and Spark have engaged in a war of words over copper broadband over the past year, with Spark increasingly promoting its own alternative wireless services to its customers. 

Communications Minister Simon Bridges said last week that more than a third of the 1.1 million households and businesses with access to UFB had now connected to the fibre network.

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 - Stuff

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