AUSTRALIA’S phone bill has risen to a record $3,859 a month, the latest monthly figure to show an increase in the cost of accessing the phone.
It comes as Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chief executive John Rau has announced the Commission will launch a program aimed at curbing the growth of phone bills, which he described as “unfair and unreasonable”.
The average phone bill in Australia is $100 a month.
But the figure has risen by more than $100 since January to reach a record of $3.89 a month in the third quarter.
While the average phone call is still far less expensive than the average TV bill, the cost for using the phone has increased by a further $100, according to data from market research company comScore.
The rising costs of phone usage have prompted calls for tighter regulation and the Federal Government to introduce a compulsory phone tax, which has been opposed by major telecommunications companies.
ComScore data show the average Australian phone bill increased by $60 per month from March to June.
And the average bill for an Australian family of four grew by $5,958 from June to September.
“Australians are seeing phone bill increases that are far higher than other developed countries, and Australians are increasingly paying the price for this unfair and unreasonable cost,” Mr Rau said.
He also warned that the “unreasonable” rise in the average price of the phone could force the Federal government to introduce mandatory phone taxes.
Consumer groups and consumer advocates have called for tighter oversight of the costs of using the phones.
Telecommunications Industry Association chief executive David Denton said the costs for the average mobile phone bill are a “gross over-inflated figure”.
“It’s a big, fat, fat pile of red tape, and it’s just going to keep getting bigger and bigger,” he said.
“And the fact is it’s going to be a lot harder to get out of the red tape than it is to get in.”
We’re not doing a very good job of controlling costs.
“Mr Denton also said he was concerned that the increase in phone bills is a sign of a slowing economy.
This year’s data shows the average weekly bill for the country rose to $2,000 from $1,000 in the same period last year.
Labor’s shadow communications spokesman for communications, Mark Butler, said the rise in phone costs was a reflection of the lack of competition in the market.
Mr Butler also called for a review of the way telecommunications companies calculate the costs and a new tax on phone use to help pay for the cost.
However, a spokesman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the Government was committed to a level playing field.
There will be no mandatory phone tax introduced, he said, adding that the government was also committed to increasing competition in telecommunications.
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