Happy New Year – how’s your phone bill?

Shoes, eh? What’s that all about.

Another year begins and I hope it finds you all fit and well and raring to go. If you had half as much fun as I did over the New Year then you’ll have had a great break and learned a few things to boot.

One of the things I’ve learned is that while I might like going on holiday in a place with no cellphone coverage, not everyone is so easily pleased. I’ve got a handful of complaints to chase up with network providers from my time on the Coromandel and beyond – hopefully we can meet in the middle somewhere with a good solution for all.

I’ve tried my best to avoid the news over the last few weeks as well but some of it does leak through. Mostly it’s been about cats, from what I can tell, but TUANZ member Alan sent me a link to a story from Australia about that perennial problem – pass through.

Vodafone Australia claims Telstra is reluctant to pass on savings from lower termination rates, instead pocketing the savings to the tune of A$1.3 billion since 2004.

The Aussie regulator has lowered mobile interconnection fees to A$0.048 per minute, a reduction of 77 percent,but the cost of calls of Telstra’s fixed-line services have not fallen only 28 percent since 2004, The Australian reports.

Telstra denies this, of course, and points to the mystery of “the bundle” and says all the savings are there, they’re just invisible.

I’m not sure about you but invisible savings are a bit like the emperor’s new clothes to my way of thinking.

Over here we also have seen dramatic falls in the cost of terminating a call on a mobile network – have we seen a similar fall in the price of calling a mobile number? Certainly we have much better pricing in our mobile to mobile space, predominantly due to 2Degrees Mobile making waves. Telecom also has sharp any-network pricing and Vodafone’s latest business offers are also pushing the “call anyone on any network” line which is great to see. But pricing itself – has that moved? As with most things telco-related, it’s hard to tell. For my own use I know we’ve reduced my mobile phone bill from around $300-$600 a month when I started to no more than $150 a month these days, but I put that down to competition more than anything else, both between mobile providers but also between landlines and mobile.

I’d like to see the Commerce Commission conduct a post-implementation review of its MTAS regime to see just what has happened since the changes came into effect. It’s important we understand what impact our regulatory intervention has on the market, particularly in light of how much time and money went into the whole thing.

What do you think – are your phone bills smaller now than they were five years ago? Was the regulatory intervention worth the effort?