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05 July, 2013
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Australians cut the cord

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Close to 3.3 million Australians aged 18 and over —19 per cent of the population—were mobile-only users at the end of 2012, replacing their fixed-line home phone with a mobile.

And the number taking this step continues to grow, according to ACMA data to December 2012.

A range of factors may be contributing to this shift:

  • increasingly consumers can now access new, improved and affordable technology
  • mobile networks are being upgraded to support 4G services
  • mobile phone plans are becoming more flexible and affordable
  • converging technologies and devices allow users to access multiple communication and media services from a single device.

And it is not only fixed-line home phones that are being substituted. The number of fixed-line home internet connections being replaced by mobile connections is also growing.

What is a mobile-only user? 

  • Mobile-only users are people who use only a mobile phone voice service for personal use and choose not to have a fixed-line home phone. 
  • In its Communications report 2009–10 series1, the ACMA identified a number of reasons why consumers considered disconnecting their fixed-line service. The main reasons were:
  • to save money—mobile calls are cheaper (56 per cent)
  • don’t use fixed-line much anymore (30 per cent)
  • happier with mobile service (12 per cent).

What is the rate of growth of mobile-only users? The number of mobile-only users grew by 20 per cent in the 12 months to December 2012 (Figure 1). This is consistent with growth rates in the previous two years.

Figure 1 Growth of mobile-only users

Whatistherateofgrowthofmobileonlyusers gif

(XLSX 22 Kb) Growth of mobile-only users 

  • Mobile-only use is being led by those aged between 25 and 34, contributing 38 per cent of the growth in the last 12 months (Figure 2). Not surprisingly they are also the largest group of mobile-only users (Figure 3), representing 38 per cent of mobile-only users.

Figure 2 Contribution to growth of mobile-only users by age group 

Contributiontogrowthofmobileonlyusersbyagegroup gif.

* For the 12->month period to December 2012
(XLSX 23 Kb)Contribution to growth of mobile-only users by age group 

Figure 3: Growth of mobile-only users by age group 

 Growthofmobileonlyusersbyagegroup gif

(XLSX 22 Kb) Growth of mobile-only users by age group

Who are mobile-only users? 

The majority of mobile-only users are:

  • under 35 (61 per cent) 
  • live in a metropolitan area (63 per cent) 
  • are low-income earners, with personal income of less than $50,000 (66 per cent). 

Profile

  • Australians aged 25 to 34 are twice as likely as the general population to be mobile-only users (Figure 4). Australians aged 65 and over are much less likely to be mobile-only users (Figure 4). 
  • But the number of mobile-only users in this group is increasing (Figure 3), more than doubling since December 2010 (by 75 per cent). 

Figure 4 Percentage within age group who are mobile-only  

Percentagewithinagegroupwhoaremobileonly gif

(XLSX 23 Kb) Growth of mobile-only users by age group

  • A person’s household structure may influence the decision to be mobile-only (Figure 5). 

Those who are mobile-only are:

  • two and half times more likely to live in a shared household
  • two-thirds more likely to be boarders
  • one-third more likely to live alon
  • one-third more likely to be a single parent.
  • Compared to the general population, mobile-only users are:
  • three-quarters less likely to bundle telecommunication services
  • a third more likely to use a smartphone as their main mobile phone.

Figure 5 Percentage within living arrangements that are mobile-only

 Percentagewithinlivingarrangementsthataremobileonly gif

 (XLSX 23 Kb)Percentage within living arrangements that are mobile-only

How do mobile-only users access the internet? 

Internet connection at home

  • 65 per cent of mobile-only users have a separate internet connection at home Of these: 
  • 81 per cent have a wireless internet connection—dongle, SIM card, portable Wi-Fi modem, wireless modem, internet key, mobile broadband card
  • 60 per cent also use their mobile handset to access the internet.

No internet connection at home

  • Of the mobile-only users who do not have a home internet connection (35 per cent):
  • 45 per cent access the internet through their mobile phone (substituting fixed-line services by being mobile-only for both voice and internet)—full mobile substitution
  • other locations where these users access the internet include:
    • the workplace (36 per cent)
    • a friend’s house (23 per cent)
    • a library (14 per cent)
    • a wireless hotspot (12 per cent)
    • at school (7 per cent)
    • in an internet cafe (5 per cent).

What internet activities are mobile-only users doing with their phones? 

Internet access via a mobile phone

  • 54 per cent of mobile-only users went online using their mobile phone. The number of people using the internet via their handset increased from 37 per cent in the 12 months to December 2012. 

Internet activities via a mobile phone

  • Seeking information and using email and messaging services are the two most common online activities for mobile-only users (Table 1). 
  • The number of mobile-only users doing their banking and general online surfing increased significantly in the 12 months to December 2012 (Table 1). Table 1 Internet activities conducted via mobile phone by mobile-only users

Type of internet activity

Users
‘000

Growth*

Most popular activity

Information

1,353

82%

Maps or directions

Email and messaging

1,283

60%

Email

Entertainment

1,116

64%

Streamed video

Surfing and browsing

1,088

90%

General browsing

Banking and finance

999

94%

Checking bank account balances

Online communities

819

51%

Social networking

Transactional activities

545

79%

Research a product or service to buy

* Growth in the 12-month period to December 2012.

Full mobile substitution

  • Full mobile substitution users are people who are mobile-only for both voice and internet services. They have substituted their personal fixed-line voice and internet services for mobile services. 
  • Less than 3 per cent of the Australian population aged 18 and over—about 480,000 people—were full mobile substitution users at December 2012. 
  • The number of full mobile substitution users has increased significantly in the 12 months to December 2012, growing by 70 per cent (Figure 6). 

Figure 6 Growth of full mobile substitution users

 Growthoffullmobilesubstitutionusers gif

(XLSX 23 Kb)Growth of full mobile substitution users

Internet activities for full mobile substitution

  • A person’s internet infrastructure at home also influences the method and frequency of their online activities. Full mobile substitution users conduct a greater number of activities with their mobile phone compared to mobile-only users with a fixed home internet connection (Figure 7). 
  • Full mobile substitution users are also more likely to use their handset to go online compared to mobile-only users with a home internet connection. Full mobile substitution users are:
  • three-quarters more likely to use entertainment services
  • two-thirds more likely to conduct online banking
  • two-thirds more likely to use social media and online communities
  • fifty per cent more likely to use email
  • fifty per cent more likely to conduct transactional activities
  • a third more likely to seek information
  • a third more likely to browse and surf the internet.

Figure 7 Comparison of internet activities conducted with a mobile handset

Comparisonofinternetactivitiesconductedwithamobilehandset gif 

  (XLSX 23 Kb)Comparison of internet activities conducted with a mobile handset

Download this report [Word]

Background to the bulletin 

This is the first report in the ACMA’s research snapshots series. The bulletins are single-issue reports that analyse a key issue. They allow the ACMA to focus on matters of particular interest to stakeholders. This data is sourced from

Roy Morgan Single Source2 with data to the year ending December 2012. Further information Additional reports Access the Communications report series. 

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End notes 

1 ACMA, Communications report 2009–10 series, Report 2—Take-up and use of voice services by Australian consumers, November 2012. 2 Roy Morgan Single Source, December 2012.

Add your comments
  • sylmobile

    5/07/2013 9:01:37 AM

    What is the research design?
    Reply
    • In reply to sylmobile

      Donald Robertson

      5/07/2013 1:45:08 PM

      Thank you for your inquiry. The survey comprised 3,300 mobile phone users aged 18 years and over without a fixed-line telephone service in the home. The survey was conducted using a combination of diary and face-to-face interviews.
      Reply
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