The major Australian telecoms are not keen to fight it out for a greater share of the mobile market as they lift prices in lock-step, says the nation’s competition watchdog, which blames the merger of TPG Telecom and Vodafone Hutchinson Australia.
The AU$15 billion (US$11.3 billion) union was strongly opposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) since 2019, and got over the line last year only after a prolonged court action resulted in the regulator’s block being overturned.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the public was now suffering the effects. “The score is on the board and consumers are paying more,” he said.
Mr Sims was referring to new analysis from the watchdog that showed Telstra, Optus, and TPG held about 90% of the pre-paid and post-paid mobile market and lifted prices by similar margins over the past year.
On average, post-paid customers of the big three are paying 5% to 15% more than they were this time last year on each flagship plan, the analysis shows.
Pre-paid users are forking over the same as they were before. They get more data, but face shorter expiry times, so have to recharge three times more a year.
“We do like to point out the consequences of decisions,” Mr Sims said when asked whether this was an “I told you so” moment for the ACCC.
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