There has been substantial drop in the price of telephone calls in most western countries over the past year. However the latest NUS International Telephone Price Survey found that Australia has failed to keep pace with the changes.
The benchmark annual survey found the cost of long-distance/STD calls rose only in Australia, while they fell or remained steady in every other country in the twelve-nation survey.
Australia also remains the most expensive country for local telephone calls.
In contrast, the independent worldwide comparison found the price of international calls had dropped in Australia for the year to 1 February 1999.
Australian local calls are one of the major market sectors still to experience price reductions through competition. While some competitors do offer a local call service, Telstra currently retains a monopoly in this area.
Real local price competition will only occur when interconnect and realistic wholesale price issues are resolved. Australia is the only country in the survey, which operates charged and untimed local calls. Germany posted the greatest drop, with local prices down 36.2%.
In the national call sector, Australian STD call costs rose by an average of 4.1% over the year, taking Australia from 8th to 3rd position. This change in ranking was due to greater price reductions in other countries. For example, the largest reduction was again Germany, which saw a fall of 64.4% in national charges.
International calls saw a 38% drop in price for Australian consumers, moving Australia one place down the rankings to fourth position. Five other countries recorded price reductions of over 40%.
Business line access charges remained relatively stable for the majority of countries, Australia again improving by one place to 11th position due to international changes.
While telecommunication prices have generally dropped in Australia, they have not dropped as much as several other countries. Major reductions here have come from new players and not the two major carriers. The new players, intent on building market share, are very competitive on price, but as yet have had marginal impact on the prices offered by the major carriers with established customer bases.
From a long-term (1987-1999) review perspective:
· Local calls costs in Australia have increased 27.9% over the above 12 years (the third greatest rise), taking Australia from 2nd position then to now being the most expensive;
· National costs fell 26.7%, but this was the smallest drop of all 12 countries over this timeframe and as a result Australia has moved from 7th to 3rd position this year;
· International call costs fell 63.6% over the 12 years, but again this was the smallest drop among countries surveyed and has taken Australia from 8th to 4th place;
· In contrast, access charges dropped by 8.4%; the second biggest drop in prices, taking Australia from 5th in 1992 to 11th position today.
Mainly because of drastic policy changes in Europe, there were more changes this year than in any other year covered by this 14-year survey.
From around the world, the survey found:
· Local and international costs are high in Belgium;
· Canadian exchange line rentals fell, despite having free local calls;
· Exchange line rental is now cheapest in France;
· Local call costs tumbled in Germany, down 36%;
· Local costs continued to increase in Sweden;
· In contrast, Swedish international prices plummeted, down 50%;
· International calls dropped the most in the US, down 57%.
Our Web Reports have been updated to include the latest NUS statistics.
· Global Telecommunications – Tariffs, Interconnect
· Australia – Telecommunications Services – Call Statistics
· New Zealand – Telecommunications – Voice Services and Major Players.