Kiwis are plugged into telecommunications

The Commerce Commission says New Zealanders are wired for telecommunications.

He says they know what they want when it comes to telecommunications and they like new technologies and the ability to use them flexibly.

“Kiwis are enthusiastically embracing telecommunications technology,” said Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson.

“In 2021, we have seen that they increasingly expect telecommunications products and services to offer high levels of flexibility in addition to functionality and connectivity.”

The Commerce Commission’s 15th Annual Telecommunications Monitoring Report shows growing adoption of uncapped mobile plans and a steady increase in landline and mobile data usage. The report shows that the average amount of data used on a fixed connection increased from 284 GB to 330 GB per month and from 3.29 GB to 4.21 GB per month for mobile connections.

The report revealed that the number of copper connections fell by 30% last year. And that most consumers leaving copper have switched to fiber, but some are switching to wireless broadband. New Zealand has one of the highest wireless broadband adoption rates in the OECD area, with 15% of broadband connections now using this technology.

“In 2020, we noticed that the COVID-19 related lockdown restrictions were accelerating the growth of fixed broadband data usage,” Gilbertson says. “While we have seen this trend continue, it has eased off this year, with a move towards products that allow greater flexibility in work, study, play and connection for Kiwis.”

In 2021, the number of residential and business consumers choosing uncapped endless mobile plans increased significantly, up 143% and 165% respectively from the previous year. Mobile is evolving in the same direction as fixed broadband, where 79% of households subscribe to unlimited data plans.

“We’ve all had to adapt our routines and lifestyles to deal with the range of disruptions and challenges created by the pandemic,” Gilbertson says. “Telecommunications can greatly help us adapt, so the findings and trends we found in our monitoring report this year reflect the shifting priorities of our purchasing choices.”

The annual Telecommunications Monitor report measures and identifies trends in the competition, development and performance of New Zealand’s telecommunications markets. The report also includes fixed and mobile broadband market share figures, largely unchanged from 2020.

The Commission indicates that it is seeking to improve the format and content of the annual telecommunications monitoring report, ensuring that it remains relevant and fit for purpose. A consultation process to obtain opinions will begin later this year.

Main developments in 2021:

Mobile roaming revenues continued to decline due to travel restrictions: Ongoing border closures limiting travel caused total mobile roaming revenue to drop to $15.6 million in 2021, down 86% from 2019. fell by 90% compared to 2019, while revenue from foreign network subscribers roaming in New Zealand fell by 72%. from 2019.

The popularity of uncapped mobile plans has increased: In 2021, 42% (or 739,000) of residential on-account subscribers purchased uncapped “endless” mobile plans, up from 18% in 2020. Similarly, 26% (or 348,000) of business on-account subscribers purchased uncapped mobile plans in 2021, up 10% in 2020.

Prices for entry-level mobile plans have fallen: The cheapest offer for an entry-level mobile plan of 50 minutes of calls and 500 MB of data has decreased from $2 in 2021 to $15 per month. Similarly, the cheapest offer for a mobile plan with 188 minutes of calls and 2 GB of data has decreased by $1 in 2021 to $27.

Fixed broadband data usage growth has slowed: Data usage by fixed and mobile connections continued to increase during the year. The average amount of data consumed on a fixed broadband connection increased from 284 GB to 330 GB per month. The average amount of data consumed on a mobile connection increased from 3.29 GB to 4.21 GB per month. However, growth in landline broadband data usage slowed to 16%, compared to 2020, when growth was 37%.

The formal migration of copper has begun: Chorus officially began withdrawing copper services where fiber is available in March 2021 by issuing the first notices under the Copper Withdrawal Code. As of June 30, 2021, Chorus has not yet withdrawn any copper services, but has issued 1,100 initial notices and 128 further notices under the Copper Withdrawal Code.

At the same time, Spark began phasing out its public switched telephone network (PSTN) and moving customers away from copper products.

The current trend of customers opting out of copper services, combined with the start of the official withdrawal, has seen the total number of copper broadband connections fall by 30% to 308,000 in the year to 30 September 2021.

The Commission 111 contact code has come into effect: As of February 1, 2021, Retail Service Providers (RSPs) are required to notify new customers and remind existing customers that their home phones may not work in the event of a power outage. RSPs had until August 1, 2021 to make further assistance available to customers who meet the Commission’s contact code 111 criteria of a “vulnerable consumer”.

Half of all mobile consumers stay with their provider for more than five years: A statistically significant consumer survey carried out for the Commission found that fixed broadband customers changed provider more frequently than mobile customers. 52% of mobile customers have been with their current operator for more than five years, compared to 43% of fixed broadband customers.