Hamish Fletcher

Hamish Fletcher is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

Mixed scorecard for NZ mobile prices

Popular plans cheaper than OECD average: regulator.

New Zealand's popular pre-paid mobile plans were 39 per cent cheaper than comparable OECD plans. Photo / Getty Images
New Zealand's popular pre-paid mobile plans were 39 per cent cheaper than comparable OECD plans. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand was handed a mixed scorecard in a new Commerce Commission report on mobile phone prices, with popular plans being cheaper than OECD averages but bigger packets of mobile data being much more expensive.

The market regulator's report compared local prices of phone plans in August 2013 and prices for stand-alone mobile broadband plans from June last year with those in other OECD countries.

New Zealand's $19 pre-paid plans were 39 per cent cheaper than the OECD average for comparable plans and 1 per cent more expensive than across the Tasman, the commission said.

"New Zealand's benchmarking results in the low- to medium-usage and prepay mobile market segments improved since 2011, with prices dropping significantly compared to the OECD average," the report said.

Competition in the prepay market is fierce.

With more expensive plans - that include more minutes and mobile data - there was no such improvement against OECD averages, the commission said.

A plan which included "900 calls" and 2 gigabytes (GB) of mobile data was 190 per cent more expensive in New Zealand than in Australia and 20 per cent more expensive than the OECD average. However, the commission did note that since its benchmarking "there had been substantial falls in the price of plans catering to high amounts of calling".

Kiwis paid 45 per cent more than in Australia for 1.5GB of mobile data and 11 per cent more than the OECD average as at June 2013. New Zealand ranked 23 out of the 34 countries included in the benchmarking exercise for the price of this amount of mobile data.

When comparing the price of 6GB of mobile data, New Zealand was second to last, ahead of Mexico. The price of this amount of mobile data was 180 per cent more than Australia and 111 per cent more than the OECD average.

The commission compares the price of 6GB to test whether mobile broadband can act as a full substitute for fixed-line broadband.

"At $98 per month [for 6GB], this price is too high for mobile broadband to be considered a clear substitute for fixed-line broadband," the report said.

- NZ Herald

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