Mobile services decline for first time: ACMA

But Australians are downloading more data than ever before

The Australian mobile market has reached saturation, but Australians are downloading greater amounts of data, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The ACMA released these findings in its Communications Report 2013-14, which was tabled this week in Parliament. The ACMA is required to submit the report to government annually under the Telecommunications Act 1997.

“While communications connectivity levels are stabilising in both the fixed and mobile markets, Australians’ appetite for data and content is ever-increasing,” said ACMA chairman Chris Chapman.

“In particular, Australians are continuing to increase their consumption of content, with huge growth in the volume of data being downloaded. More Australians are streaming video services directly using cloud-based applications, with volumes streamed now surpassing video content downloaded to devices.”

While the number of mobile services dropped only slightly, the 2013-14 period marked the first time that mobile service subscriptions have declined, the ACMA said. There were 31.01 million mobile services in June 2014, a 0.3 per cent drop from June 2014.

Growth has also slowed over the last three years in the number of Internet connections, with about 81 per cent of Australians today having a connection in the home, the ACMA said. In June 2014, the total number of Internet service subscribers increased 3.3 per cent year-on-year to 33.05 million.

At the same time, however, Australians are downloading more data and making more extensive use of their mobile handsets, the agency said.

Australians downloaded 1.03 million TB of data in the quarter ending June 2014, the ACMA said. That was 53 per cent more data than they did in the same quarter in 2014.

Data downloaded via fixed-line broadband grew by 53 per cent, while data downloaded on mobile grew by 20 per cent, the ACMA said. Fixed-line subscriptions contributed 93 per cent of the total growth in data downloads.

The agency noted increases in the number of Australian households connected to the National Broadband Network. As of June 2014, there were 605,460 premises passed by the NBN network, up from 234,799 in June 2013; and there were 210,628 premises with activated NBN services, up from 70,100 the year before.

Many Australians are using multiple devices to connect to the Internet, the agency said. In the six months to May 2014, 68 per cent of Internet users went online with three or more devices. The most popular types of devices used were mobile (76 per cent) and laptop PCs (74 per cent).

Australians are increasingly using streaming services for music, movies, TV shows and more, the ACMA found. About 44 per cent of Australians use streaming services, up from 23 per cent five years ago.

The report also pointed to large growth in over-the-top services like VoIP and mobile messaging apps. The ACMA had noted this trend in a separate report last month, highlighting it as a potential area for regulatory reform.

With increased activity online came more computer viruses. The Australian Internet Security Initiative reported 25,839 computer infections per day in May 2014, up from 16,034 per day one year ago, according to the ACMA.

The number of carriage service providers increased during the year by 24 to 1384 CSPs, the ACMA said. At the end of June 2014, there were 208 telecom carriers supplying network infrastructure. The agency noted a great deal of market volatility, with many CSPs entering and exiting the market every year.

The full report can be read here.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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