Data demand on the rise, but consumers say they're paying too much

Data demand on the rise, but consumers say they're paying too much

New Zealanders have significantly increased the amount of data they consume in the last year, with the maturing of online habits and the introduction of new streaming services like Spotify and Quickflix. However, a survey by Canstar Blue shows more than half of us say we're paying far too much for these bits, bytes, and packets of light.

According to the consumer ratings organisation's latest broadband survey, 60 percent of the 1824 broadband account holders surveyed say they are using more data than they were a year ago.

According to Statistics New Zealand, the number of Kiwi internet users with data caps of 50 GB or more in 2012, increased by 800 percent from the previous year. More than half of customers now have a 20 GB per month or higher data cap.

Derek Bonnar, national manager at Canstar, says the market has become more competitive in the last few years as internet service providers (ISP) have introduced larger datacaps or unlimited plans. He believes consumers who say they are paying too much for their broadband services might be mirroring concerns for internet pricing as vocalised by the media.

“More than 60 percent of respondents think they pay too much for their broadband package, perhaps reflecting media articles noting New Zealand broadband deals lag behind most other developed countries,” says Bonnar.

A year and a half on from the commencement of the government's $1.5 billion ultra-fast broadband (UFB) network, Canstar says more than a third of New Zealanders don't understand the difference between UFB and normal copper services.

“At this point, 43 percent of all respondents and half of all of the women surveyed don’t understand UFB and how it will change their internet experience. Hopefully this number will reduce as more of the new network is deployed, and UFB becomes more of a reality and less of a concept,” says Bonnar.

Best ISP

Canstar Blue, as a part of the CANSTAR parent company, rates products and services based on customer satisfaction.

This year's poll of 1824 New Zealand broadband account holders found Orcon the winner of the ISP customer satisfaction survey, but Slingshot came out on top for data cap sizes.

Larger players like Telecom, Telstra Clear, and Vodafone lagged behind the challengers, falling especially in the value for money category.


Broadband and Homework

Broadband is a necessity to 64 percent of the parents surveyed, especially for their children's class work. The survey found Auckland parents are more likely to hold this view than parents from other regions.

It's not just homework the kids are using the internet for, and parents are wising up to their online conduct.

“Auckland kids appear to be the most avid users of the internet, with nearly 50% of the region’s parents saying their kids spend more time online than watching the telly," says Bonnar.

“Parents also recognise the importance of monitoring what their kids are doing online. Nearly 70% of parents say they are more vigilant about monitoring online use than television watched.”

Internet Guilt

One in ten New Zealanders say their offline relationships suffer because of the amount of time they spend online, according to Canstar.

Bonnar says people from Waikato, members of Generation Y (aged 18-29), and men are most likely to fall into this category. 

Even so, more than a quarter of all respondents say they feel guilty about the amount of time they fritter away online. Again, Generation Y is most likely to feel this new aged guilt, with 40 percent surveyed saying they have pangs of guilt about their online use. Compared to only one in five baby boomers who feel the same way.