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Australian telecommunications services

International benchmarking report

This report was released on 17 March 1999. The study compares the performance of the Australian telecommunications services industry with those in other countries. Related papers submitted to this study by NECG Ltd. and Telecom New Zealand were released with the report.

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Australia's telecommunications prices are about average among better performing OECD countries, but are still 20 to 40 per cent higher than the best performers, according to a report released today by the Productivity Commission.

The report — International Benchmarking of Telecommunications Services — compares the performance of the Australian telecommunications service industry with those in eight other OECD countries. It improves on earlier studies by using actual prices which include discounts, and by covering a wide range of services for residential customers and different sized businesses.

Productivity Commission Chairman, Gary Banks said " while Australia's performance compares favourably with some OECD countries, there is still a large price gap with the best performers. This can't simply be attributed to differences in the physical operating environment".

The Commission's report points to differences in the degree of competition and in regulatory arrangements having a major influence on price variations among the benchmarked countries.

"With an industry representing $20 billion in annual sales, the potential benefits to Australian households and businesses of even modest price reductions would be large," Mr Banks said.

The Commission found few indicators of the quality of service for which there were comparable data to make reliable international comparisons. More could be done to ensure that performance indicators are relevant and consistent with measures used internationally.

The report is the latest in a series of international benchmarking studies conducted by the Productivity Commission.

Further information

02 6240 3330

Cover, Copyright, Foreword, Table of Contents, Abbreviations and Glossary, Overview

1 Introduction
1.1 Rationale for benchmarking telecommunications services
1.2 Approach
1.3 Study scope
1.4 Data Collection
1.5 Consultation
1.6 Refereeing
1.7 Structure of the report

2 Telecommunications services in Australia
2.1 The significance of telecommunications services to economic activity
2.2 Network structure and technological trends
2.3 Telecommunications services demand
2.4 Telecommunications carriers and service providers
2.5 In summary

3 Social policy and retail price regulation
3.1 The Universal Service Obligation
3.2 Retail price regulation
3.3 In summary

4 Regulation of competition
4.1 Evolution of regulatory arrangements
4.2 Approaches to regulating access
4.3 Number portability and carrier pre-selection
4.4 Access terms and conditions
4.5 Accounting separation
4.6 Regulating anti-competitive conduct
4.7 In summary

5 Residential price comparisons
5.1 Methodology
5.2 Public Switched Telephone Network
5.3 Integrated Services Digital Network
5.4 Mobile
5.5 In summary

6 Business price comparisons
6.1 Methodology
6.2 Small businesses
6.3 Medium-sized businesses - dial-up services
6.4 Medium-sized businesses - data services
6.5 Large businesses
6.6 In summary

7 Quality of service
7.1 Methodological issues
7.2 QoS regulation and monitoring in Australia
7.3 QoS performance indicators
7.4 In summary

8 Interpretation of performance
8.1 Measurement errors
8.2 External factors outside the control of industry
8.3 Government involvement and interventions
8.4 Prices, financial performance and productivity
8.5 Benefits of lower Australian prices

A Participants

B Telecommunications economics

C The value-added services sector

D Australian regulatory and institutional arrangements

E International regulatory and institutional environment

F Assumptions used for price comparisons