Cable and broadband companies are starting to see the effects of the impact of the global digital divide.
In a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the consultancy has identified the effect of the growing internet access divide on both residential and business broadband services and the value of broadband packages across different industries.
It also found that broadband providers are beginning to experience the impacts of these changes in their services, and that consumers are beginning the process of learning about the benefits of different plans.
The report found that while the cost of broadband service across all households has declined, residential broadband packages have increased by 50 per cent in the past five years, while business packages have seen an average increase of 65 per cent.
PricewaterhouseCovid also found broadband is also increasing at a slower pace for people in the working-age population, and this is largely due to changes in the nature of broadband.
There are also concerns about the impact on the future of the NBN, which was initially designed to provide broadband service to all Australians, but is now expected to be split between rural and regional areas.
While it is possible that a national broadband package will be in place in time, there are also some issues with the NBN and its fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) technology.
“The cost of installing the NBN has increased in the years since its launch, and it is now more expensive than the cost for fibre-optic broadband,” Mr Brown said.
The report also found many consumers were also unaware of the changes in NBN speeds that were affecting their broadband and data plans.
This was particularly problematic for consumers who had recently upgraded to an NBN broadband package, and had not yet upgraded to a fibre-based broadband package.
Mr Brown said the report showed consumers were not being given enough information about the NBN changes, and some were not even aware of the change in speeds or speeds on their plans.
“There are many consumers who are still unaware of these speed and data changes, even though they are aware of their existing NBN plans,” he said.
“If consumers are not informed, they are not likely to upgrade their services.
Consumers should also be aware of NBN speed and usage limits, and what speeds are required to access their internet service.”
In some cases, customers had already experienced significant changes in speed or data packages on their existing plans, or were in the process.
“Consumers are likely to experience some of these speeds or usage restrictions if they upgrade to an ISP-supported NBN broadband service, as they do not have access to a standard NBN broadband plan,” Mr Moore said.
“These speeds or data limits are not necessarily indicative of the speeds or limits required to connect to the internet, but are a sign of broadband speeds and usage limitations, and should be addressed as a consumer’s priority.”
“Consultants suggest that consumers should ask their provider to provide information to inform them of the current speeds or download limits on their broadband plans.”
He also recommended that people upgrade their plans to an additional package, or to a different provider if they were not satisfied with the speed and speed tiers that they were currently receiving.
“Opting for a new package can help consumers avoid significant speed and/or data package increases on existing NBN services,” Mr Davis said.
The research found that consumers were willing to pay up to $150 more for broadband, and were able to purchase more data packages, than they did before.
However, consumers were concerned about the speed increases, with many consumers saying they would prefer to pay less than they had paid before.
“I have already paid more than $300 per month for NBN service, and I am considering going back to pay the extra,” Ms Brown said in a statement.
Ms Brown also said she was concerned about how the NBN had been used in Australia, and the lack of a consistent NBN strategy.
“The NBN is a great tool for building a robust network, but we need to be better in making sure we deliver the right NBN packages for the right customers, and not just for the few who can afford it,” she said.