Internet users across Australia are increasingly using broadband services, but the growth of take-up is slowing, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The ACCC’s Snapshot of Broadband Deployment report shows that from April to June 2002 there was a 29.2 percent increase in the take-up of broadband services. This dropped to 21 percent for the July to September quarter and fell further to 16.4 percent in the October to December quarter.

Currently, the rate of take-up is a great deal slower than that of some overseas markets.

General manager of telecommunications at the ACCC, Michael Cosgrave, said that network reliability and price were the main criteria for choosing to move to broadband. In general, as services improve so does consumer confidence.

The ACCC’s Snapshot of Broadband Deployment report shows that from April to June 2002 there was a 29.2 percent increase in the take-up of broadband services. This dropped to 21 percent for the July to September quarter and fell further to 16.4 percent in the October to December quarter.

“At the end of December 2002, there were 363,500 broadband services connected across Australia, an increase of 51,300 since September 2002,” ACCC Chairman, Professor Allan Fels, said.

He said that the biggest slowdown had occurred in take-up of ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) services.

“In the April to June quarter, growth in ADSL take-up was 51.4 percent, but this declined to 24.1 percent in the July to September quarter and 16 percent in the October to December quarter,” he said.

The ACCC recently received a number of complaints from Telstra’s wholesale and retail ADSL customers expressing concern about the quality of Telstra’s ADSL transfer processes, particularly delays and downtime to the ADSL service that occurred when the customer attempted to change ISPs.

“Complainants suggested that these delays, which varied from a few days to a number of weeks, were stifling the further development of ADSL competition, as consumers were deterred from moving between ADSL service providers for fear of experiencing these delays,” Fels said.

The ACCC informed Telstra of the concerns regarding ADSL transfers and, in response, the telco trialled more streamlined and efficient transfer processes.

Telstra said that its wholesale DSL connections increased by 51 percent in the October to December quarter of 2002.

“DSL growth is exceeding initial expectations and we expect it to continue to do so as more people see the benefits of broadband — both at home and at work — and as new and exciting bandwidth hungry applications come on-line,” Telstra Wholesale managing director, Deena Shiff, said.

“The ACCC is encouraged by Telstra’s recent initiatives aimed at addressing this problem and will be closely monitoring the implementation of the new ADSL transfer processes to ensure that it delivers a high quality service to Telstra’s retail customers,” Fels said.

In light of the recent statistics, the Commonwealth Government revealed spending over A$180 million (US$107 million) so far to promote the rollout of broadband infrastructure and promotion through various programs.



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