Mobile plans and broadband: what to expect


Telco is the industry that never sleeps, and for as many big changes as we saw in 2016 you can be sure there will be plenty more in 2017.

The price of mobile phone plans may get even cheaper but recent trends suggest we should expect much higher data inclusions rather than a big price decrease.

We tend to look overseas to spot upcoming trends in the structure of phone plans, and recent shifts in the US market would be very interesting if introduced in Australia. A key difference is the removal of all excess usage fees.

The major US telcos now throttle the speed of mobile data when customers reach their limit, effectively killing data bill shock. This puts a cap on how much you can spend on your mobile plan each month, and it gives the telcos the chance to advertise their plans as having "unlimited data", even though only a portion is at full 4G speed.

And with all of this extra data, we expect the telcos to bundle even more content to help us use it all.

This year Optus bought the rights to the English Premier League and bundled access to it in plans for its customers. Telstra and Vodafone have strong ties to the streaming music and video industries.

It's difficult to guess exactly what the content partnerships will be, but there is definitely much more to come.

With the broadband market, all eyes are on the NBN. More homes and businesses are being connected to the network each month, which means more households are now asking, "Should we connect to the NBN and at what speed?"

In truth, this is a great problem to have. Despite the political tug of war, the NBN is the most important infrastructure project in Australia for decades.

The NBN has its work cut out for it, though.

Early reports are suggesting that most households are waiting to connect, and those that do connect are choosing the slowest, cheapest plan options.

Expect the NBN to ramp up its communications in the next year about the various advantages of a fast 100Mbps connection.

Expect to hear a lot more about the future of the internet, about virtual reality, remote medicine and education, and even higher-resolution video.

The problem, of course, is that it is difficult to convince someone to pay now for features they may enjoy in the future.

Joseph Hanlon is editor of WhistleOut.
For more outlooks for 2017, including the best value phone plans and broadband bundles, grab a copy of the December/January edition of Money magazine, out now.


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