Australia benefits from going mobile | ACMA

Australia benefits from going mobile

New ACMA research, The economic impacts of mobile broadband on the Australian economy, from 2006 to 2013, brings home the realisation that the ‘connectedness’ of mobile broadband has had a major impact on Australia’s productivity and overall economic growth. It led to a $33.8 billion increase in economic activity (measured in terms of Gross Domestic Product) in 2013—that’s a 2.28 per cent contribution to Australia’s total GDP.

‘It’s been reasonably trite to say of late that whether you’re videoconferencing on the go or chatting with friends on the evening commute, mobile broadband helps people everywhere to stay connected,’ said ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman.

‘We know that mobile broadband services and technologies enrich our work and private lives on a daily basis, in ways that were unheard of a decade ago. But with this groundbreaking research, we now see the real dollar value of these daily connections—the value of these connections enhanced by a world’s best-practice approach to spectrum management.’

The research confirms that the economic impact of mobile broadband in 2013 consisted of:

  • productivity growth from the mobile communications sector that led to an increase of $7.3 billion in Australia’s economic activity (GDP)
  • time savings for businesses as a result of mobile broadband use that led to a further $26.5 billion increase in Australia’s economic activity.

Alternatively expressed, as a result of this growth, every Australian now effectively has, on average each year, $652 more cash in their pocket.

‘This research shows that Australians have actually reaped the rewards of wireless communication for many years.’ said Mr Chapman. ‘In its spectrum management role, the ACMA is constantly seeking to strike a balance between the economic value of the spectrum, the interests of incumbents and their sunk investments, and the pressures of finding practical solutions for other competing and emerging interests.’

The ACMA continues to explore ways to maximise the value of finite spectrum resources. The mobile broadband research provides essential evidence to inform the ACMA’s spectrum management activities in an evolving communications environment.

An infographic is also available. For more information, please refer to the Fast facts and Background below or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or

Media release 18/2014 - 3 April

Fast facts

The report

The economic impacts of mobile broadband on the Australian economy, from 2006 to 2013 is commissioned research, analysing the impact on the Australian economy from the uptake and use of mobile broadband technologies.

Economy-wide impacts

  • Mobile broadband increased the growth rate of the Australian economy by 0.28 per cent each year from 2007 to 2013. 
  • In 2013, mobile broadband increased Australia’s economic activity by $33.8 billion. This is equivalent to 2.28 per cent of Australia’s GDP (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Economic impacts of mobile broadband

Figure1Economicimpactsofmobilebroadband jpg


Productivity within the mobile broadband sector

  • Productivity of the mobile sector increased by 11.3 per cent per year from 2006 to 2013.
  • Outputs of the mobile communications sector have risen rapidly from 2006 to 2013:
    • connections have risen by more than 50 per cent
    • voice minutes have risen by more than 150 per cent
    • data use is 1,000 times higher than what it was in 2006 (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Outputs of the mobile sector, 2006 to 2013

 Figure2Outputsofthemobilesector2006to2013 jpg

Productivity from business mobile broadband use

Businesses reported that on average, mobile broadband has reduced business costs by 1.4 per cent, and saving 2.3 per cent of employees’ time, in 2013. Sectors citing the largest impacts from mobile broadband are electricity, gas, water and waste services; transport, postal and warehousing; administrative and support services; and financial and insurance services.

Expected growth in mobile broadband

Mobile data use is expected to grow at an annual rate of 38 per cent, from an estimated monthly average of 22.2 PB in 2013 to 81.1 PB in 2017. One petabyte (PB) equals 1,000,000 gigabytes or 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. 4G data traffic is expected to increase at an annual growth rate of 76 per cent for 2013–17.


Report methodology

The economic impacts of mobile broadband on the Australian economy, from 2006 to 2013 used general equilibrium economic modelling to show the economy-wide impacts arising from mobile broadband.

The model was a CIE-REGIONS model, which is a 53-sector, eight-region computable general equilibrium model of the Australian economy, based on the Productivity Commission’s MMRF-NRA model.

The report draws on a number of key data sources including:

  • mobile broadband traffic and usage data between 2006 and 2013 provided by Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association
  • statistics on Australia’s mobile communications industry provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics 
  • a survey of 1,002 Australian businesses—Business Mobile Communications Usage and Impact Survey—assessing the productivity improvements achieved by business through the use of mobile broadband 
  • a range of industry reports, including from IBISWorld, Analysys Mason, Ovum, Evans & Peck and Cisco.


Mobile broadband research is a key component of the ACMA’s broader research program, which assists it to make evidence-informed decisions in the contemporary communications and media environment.

Mobile broadband research is significantly contributing to the ongoing development of the ACMA’s future mobile broadband strategy. Further details of this strategy are expected to be announced around July 2014.

Last updated: 04 April 2014