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Some facts about Australia's improving communications networks.

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Joanna Gash, MP

Press Release 12 August 2003

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When the Coalition came into power in 1996 there were three licensed telephone companies - Telstra, Optus and Vodafone - all operating and installing mobile telephone networks but only Telstra and Optus were allowed to operate fixed line telephony.

The previous Labor Government had introduced this limited form of competition by abolishing the Telstra (or Telecom) monopoly.

In 1997 the removal of barriers allowed competition to develop and there are now hundreds of service providers offering telecommunications and Internet services throughout Australia providing greater choices, significantly lower prices and a vastly increased range of products and services.

The most obvious but often overlooked benefit has been the lowering of prices for all telephone call types and according to the latest figures from the ACCC they have fallen between 1996 and 2001 by the following: · Mobile calls - down by 27.4% · Fixed line calls to mobiles - down by 13.3% · Local Calls - down by 29.1% · Long distance calls - down by 29.6% · International calls - down by 61.2%

Other new and innovative services include: Fixed telephone services · Customers can now have different providers for local, long-distance, international and fixed to mobiles. · Number portability means you can keep you phone number when you change companies. · Customers can bundle all their telephone services together with other services such as Internet or pay TV to obtain discounted fees.

Mobile services: · A choice between five mobile networks and two types of digital technology - GSM and CDMA · Telstra and Optus offering enhanced data services and Hutchison rolling out a state of the art 3G mobile network · 65% of Australian now have mobile phones and there are more mobile than fixed telephone services.

Internet services · Dial-up access to the Internet is now available nationally at the cost of a local call. · Broadband services are available through a range of technologies 1. By satellite to 100% of the population 2. By ADSL to about 70% of homes 3. By cable modem to about 35% of homes

Benefits to Australia Competition in the telecommunications industry have flowed through to benefit the entire economy as lower prices and innovative new products resulting in efficiency and productivity gains for business.

An independent report by the Allen Consulting Group, commissioned by the Australian Communications Authority, showed that competition led to consumer benefits of between $595 and $878 per household in 2001/02 and to $900 million in increased profits per year for small business.

According to the same report the changes and competition in communications have created 100,000 new jobs and increased the size of Australia's economy by $10 billion.