Internet users in Australia are being forced to pay some of the world’s highest prices for basic broadband connections, new research has revealed.
Australia is the fourth-most expensive country in the world for a standard 100Mbps broadband plan, data compiled by discount site Picodi shows.
The average cost of a 100Mbps in Australia is $94.88, the data shows, with only Norway ($100.11), Iceland ($100.90), and South Africa ($127.48) having pricier plans.
Across the ditch, New Zealand internet users pay an average of $83.20 for a 100Mbps plan, while those in the US pay $73.06, and $64.23 in the United Kingdom.
By contrast, internet users in China pay an average of just $16.83 for 100Mbps plans.
Broadband internet is cheapest in Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine, with consumers paying an average of $14.12, $11.22, and $9.04 respectively for 100Mbps plans, the data showed.
When it comes to super-fast internet
download speeds of 1Gbps – Australia is the most expensive country in the world – plans cost an average of $321.50.
By contrast, Kiwis pay an average of just $97.5 for 1Gbps plans.
The $51 billion taxpayer-funded infrastructure project is slated for completion in 2020, with the NBN Co promising to have 8.1 million homes and businesses using the service, and a further 11.7 million ready to connect.
There are currently around 6.19 million households and businesses connected to the NBN, and more than 10 million that are ready to connect.
Last month, the NBN Co unveiled new speed tiers that will hit the market in May, and shaved dollars off its wholesale prices, after a five-month wholesale pricing review.
However, experts warned that consumers will only benefit from the reduced wholesale prices if telcos pass the savings on.
Pricey internet creating a ‘digital divide’
Consumer advocates and technology academics continue to warn that both the high cost of access to the NBN, and the hotchpotch nature of the multi-technology network, is creating a digital divide in Australia.
According to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), more than one million households are currently locked out of the NBN due to its high cost.
“Unfortunately, we know that the affordability of broadband services is an ongoing worry for many Australians. We’re not alone in highlighting this; recently we’ve seen everyone from Infrastructure Australia to the Human Rights Commission acknowledge this as a growing concern,” ACCAN spokesperson Melyssa Troy told The New Daily.
If broadband affordability is not addressed, the digital divide between those who are connected and those who aren’t is only going to deepen.
“This will have a serious impact on those left behind, especially as we see everything from banking to government services increasingly move online.”
In May, research by University of Sydney urban infrastructure expert Tooran Alizadeh revealed one in two households in Australia’s three biggest cities will be dudded with an inferior NBN connection.
“When I was finalising this research it really got me one more time that we have been cheated,” Dr Alizadeh said.
RMIT University telecommunications expert Mark Gregory described the NBN, which is already more than $5 billion over budget, as “a second-rate obsolete network”.
The NBN Co has insisted that the network is on par with those of comparable nations, touting it as “one of the world’s most ambitious infrastructure projects”.