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Communications and media in Australia: Trends and developments in telecommunications 2020–21

This report provides an overview of the Australian telecommunications sector during the 2020–21 financial year. Drawing on a combination of industry data and primary consumer research, the report describes key developments in the provision, take-up and use of telecommunications infrastructure and services, and considers drivers that underpin and shape the adoption of technology.

In 2020–21, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the importance of home-based internet services. Lockdowns and border closures saw a greater reliance on home broadband for everyday activities, with remote working and online education becoming commonplace. Online shopping grew considerably, with over a million more Australians shopping online, while video content streaming boomed. Not surprisingly, 2021 saw data traffic at an all-time high, and many Australians increased their internet speed and upgraded to unlimited data plans.

Despite this increased demand for broadband, 2020–21 was a challenging one for Australia’s largest telcos. With revenues down due in part to the pandemic’s effects on the mobile phone market, the communications sector continued to transform, investing in 5G infrastructure and alternative services such as edge/cloud computing to drive future revenue growth.

  • NBN – 8.2 million active NBN services in June 2021 (up from 7.4 million in 2020).
  • Over 9 in 10 of us (91%) had home broadband connection in 2021 with the vast majority of services in operation (93%) now connected to the NBN.
  • Data traffic is at an all-time high – a total of 9.58 million terabytes was downloaded in the 3 months to June 2021, up 20% from the same quarter 2020. Almost 90% of data downloaded in June 2021 was via fixed broadband networks.
  • Our use of fixed-line home phones has sharply declined – down from 54% in 2017 to 24% in 2021.
  • 61% of employed Australian adults worked online from home in the 6 months to June 2021.

About the report 

This report is part of the ACMA research program, which provides evidence to inform our decision making.


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