Faulty ACCC report underestimates broadband connections

By James Wells

CANBERRA: A report issued today by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC), which the government agency admits includes data of questionable integrity, could mean local broadband adoption now exceeds three million connections.

The ACCC report, titled Snapshot of Broadband Deployment, estimates 2.79 million broadband services were connected across Australia by the end of the 2005 calendar year based on data provided by major carriers of broadband. However, the report does not contain data from all providers, which means that adoption of broadband may be faster than estimated.

“The ACCC considers that the figures presented may understate total subscriber numbers. The ACCC is currently also working to resolve some outstanding data issues to enhance the integrity of the data,” said ACCC Commissioner, Ed Willett.

In a further blow to the accuracy of the report, the ACCC believes the take-up of wireless broadband services appeared to increase in the December quarter, but was unable to provide complete data on the growth within the category.

“As not all wireless providers have provided data to the ACCC, the take-up figures are incomplete,” Willett said.
Regardless of the report’s inaccuracies, an estimate of broadband adoption based on the 12.1 per cent growth experienced in the final quarter to 31 December, 2005, means connections to the end of March 31 should now exceed three million.

The 12.1 per cent growth in the fourth quarter of 2005 was down from 18 per cent in the third quarter. Overall broadband connections have increased by 1,280,100 connections or 85 per cent in the 2005 calendar year from the December 2004 figure of 1,504,900.

"The December results complete the overall trend of consistent growth in broadband take-up throughout 2005.  Although growth in the December quarter was down on previous quarters, 2005 saw the take-up of broadband services increase by 85 per cent, which amounted to an increase of over 1.25 million customers,” Willett said.

"In 2005, it was the take-up of DSL broadband that by far exhibited the strongest growth. However, there was also steady growth in the take-up of broadband delivered by other technologies, including satellite and cable. There are also signs that take-up of wireless broadband services is beginning to increase, albeit off a limited base.”

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