A study by New Zealand’s Commerce Commission found competition in mobile services is moving in a positive direction for consumers, but noted there is room for improvement in data pricing and the allocation of more spectrum can help.
The agency, which released the preliminary findings of the study today (16 May), said mobile tariffs are generally lower than OECD averages, but prices for large data plans are noticeably higher than in Australia. It also noted reliable 4G coverage is “not so widespread”.
Telecommunications Commissioner Stephen Gale said the country ranked eighth out of 88 countries for 4G speed, citing data from OpenSignal.
“We have three established mobile network operators and all are performing well on most measures of quality. However, there is room for improvement in some areas. Information on performance measures like call dropping rates and coverage gaps is also hard to find.”
Gale added the commission sees no need to regulate at this stage but will “keep an eye on the ability of new virtual operators to access wholesale services. We expect more spectrum and consumer engagement will help this market to develop where it is commercially viable”.
Gale said the key challenge for future competition is the allocation of spectrum, noting this is a “key cost” for the country’s operators.
“Imbalances in spectrum holdings between operators, across all bands, can affect competition. Our view is that, in its design of future spectrum allocation processes, MBIE [the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment] should have wholesale and retail competition matters at the forefront of decisions.”
John Wesley-Smith, GM for regulation at Spark, said in a statement: “We note the commission’s comments about the importance of spectrum to future competition, and we will continue to engage with the commission and MBIE in the coming months on future spectrum allocations.”
The study found that while consumers consider switching providers to be a reasonably simple process, there is still some inertia: the commission undertook to better understand the impact of this apathy.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back