Australians' appetite for data & content continues to grow | ACMA


01 December, 2014 01:43 PM


Australians' appetite for data & content continues to grow

By Gus Ortega-Montiel


While communications connectivity levels are stabilising in both the fixed and mobile markets, Australians’ appetite for data and content is ever-increasing. This is shown by growth in the intensity of online participation, data use, e-commerce activities and the streaming of content. In particular, we’re continuing to consume more 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.

The ACMA Communications report 2013–14 confirms that this increase in online activity continues to be a major catalyst for change in the Australian communications and media market, providing both new growth opportunities and challenges for traditional revenue streams.

Here are some of the key facts and figures from the report.

Daily life

  • 14.72 million Australians had access to the internet in their home at June 2014.
  • 68 per cent of internet users went online via three or more devices in the six months to May 2014, an increase of six percentage points from the previous year.
  • 77 per cent of online Australians banked or paid a bill online and 69 per cent used social networking.

Communicating on the move

  • At June 2014, there were 31.01 million mobile services in operation in Australia, down slightly by 0.3 per cent.
  • The volume of data downloaded via mobile handsets increased by 97 per cent from the June quarter 2013 to the June quarter 2014.
  • At May 2014, 12.07 million people used a smartphone, up eight per cent from May 2013.
  • 76 per cent of online Australians accessed the internet via mobile phone at May 2014.

Over-the-top (OTT) communications services

  • The number of voice over internet protocol (VoIP) users increased by six per cent to reach 4.87 million.
  • Strong growth in the use of mobile phone (increase of 41 per cent) and tablet OTT services (48 per cent) continued.

Data demands

  • Australians downloaded 1,034,959 terabytes of data in the June quarter 2014—a 53 per cent increase on the June quarter 2013.
  • 93 per cent of data downloaded occurred via fixed-line broadband.
  • The average mobile phone internet user downloaded 1.9 GB of data in the quarter ending June 2014, compared to 155.0 GB for the average fixed-line broadband user.

Communications service and infrastructure developments

  • There were 1,384 carriage service providers (CSPs) at the end of June 2014, a net increase of 24 over the year, and 208 telecommunications carriers supplying network infrastructure. 
  • At June 2014, 604,470 premises were passed by the National Broadband Network (234,799 at June 2013) and 210,628 premises were activated.
  • Mobile network operators had made significant progress in rolling out 4G mobile networks at June 2014:
    • Telstra’s 4G network covered 87 per cent of the population, up from 66 per cent from the previous year
    • Optus expanded its 4G metro population coverage to 78 per cent (on-street) and 58 per cent (in-building)
    • VHA’s network (including 3G and 4G) reached 96 per cent of the Australian population adding, on average, more than 100 new 4G sites per month.

Online—on the money

  • Online revenue from the sale of goods or services by businesses operating in Australia reached $246 billion during 2012–13, a $10 billion increase on 2011–12.
  • Expenditure on online advertising grew by 19 per cent to total $3.99 billion over the 2013 calendar year. This represented a 30 per cent share of total media advertising expenditure, compared to 25 per cent in 2012 and 20 per cent in 2011.

New and emerging content services

  • 8.22 million Australians accessed professionally produced video content services, such as catch-up TV, video on demand and IPTV in the six months to May 2014, an increase of 4.6 per cent compared to the six months to May 2013.
  • 44 per cent of Australians streamed video or audio in the six months to June 2014, compared to 40 per cent at June 2013.

Telecommunications consumer safeguards

  • All qualifying CSPs met the Customer Service Guarantee Benchmarks for installing and repairing standard telephone services, and meeting appointments for residential and small-business customers.
  • In 2013–14, the number of new complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman declined by 12 per cent to 138,946. 
  • The Do Not Call Register recorded a nine per cent increase in the number of participants, up to 9.6 million numbers listed.

National interest issues

  • At June 2014, there was a four per cent decrease in number of calls to the emergency service numbers Triple Zero and 112.
  • Telstra again performed above emergency call answering regulatory requirements for the time taken to answer each call.

Internet security

  • There was an increase in the average number of computer infections reported under the Australian Internet Security Initiative, up from 16,034 per day in 2012–13 to 25,839 per day at May 2014.

Broadcasting industry regulatory performance

  • All major metropolitan free-to-air commercial network licensees met the Australian content transmission quotas for overall content, drama and documentaries.
  • All regional commercial radio and television broadcasting licensees broadcast the required amount of material of local significance.

ACMA Hotline

  • There was an increase of nearly 550 per cent in the number of items of online child abuse and other illegal material referred to law enforcement agencies.

The Communications report 2013–14 fulfils the ACMA's reporting obligations under section 105 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.