The internet service market and Australians in the online environment | ACMA

The internet service market and Australians in the online environment

More Australians embrace online activities in their daily lives

The internet service market in Australia is dynamic, characterised by continual innovation in internet service provider (ISP) offerings, take-up of innovative consumer access devices and increased consumer participation in the online environment. These are some of the key findings from the latest ACMA research into the emerging digital economy, The internet service market and Australians in the online environment (PDF [693 kb] or Word [1.3 mb] formats), released on Tuesday 5th July.

At December 2010, there were nearly 10.4 million active internet subscribers in Australia using fixed and mobile wireless (dongle, datacard, USB mode) services and 8.2 million internet subscribers using mobile phone handsets - across the household, business and government sectors.

The availability of internet services over mobile networks continues to grow. Mobile wireless subscriber numbers increased by 49 per cent in the 12 months to December 2010, while mobile phone handset subscribers increased at a comparable, but slightly lower, rate (21 per cent over the six months to December 2010).

However, growth in these services has not occurred at the expense of fixed-line access technologies, with ADSL (subscriber numbers also increasing by seven per cent over the 12 month period. Fixed-line internet services continue to play a central role in driving the digital economy accounting for the majority (91 per cent) of data downloads in Australia. During the December quarter of 2010, nearly 175,000 terabytes of data were downloaded via fixed-line services in Australia, compared to 16,990 terabytes downloaded via mobile wireless services (dongles, datacards and USB modems) and just 4,029 terabytes downloaded via mobile phone handsets.

More Australians are going online and becoming more intensive users of the internet. Nearly 15.1 million (83 per cent) persons aged 14 years and over went online during the December quarter of 2010, up from 14.2 million during the same period in 2009. At December 2010, 71 per cent of internet users went online at least once a day, compared to 67 per cent at December 2009 and 63 per cent at December 2008.

'The increases in online activity demonstrate the growing importance placed on the internet as a facilitator of everyday social and economic activity,' said Chris Chapman, ACMA Chairman. 'Australians are engaging with the digital economy more often, drawn to services such as online shopping, banking and social networking'.

Approximately 7.4 million people accessed retail and auction web sites, 8.4 million people accessed social networking sites and 5.5 million accessed video streaming sites from home during the month of December 2010 alone. Table 8 shows that the most visited e-commerce sites by Australians are eBay (4.2 million people), Amazon (1.7 million) and the network (1.3 million). The growth of e-commerce is further reflected in latest ABS numbers which shows that nearly $143 billion in online orders were received by Australian businesses during 2009-10, a 15 per cent increase over the 2008-09 period.

Table 8 Australians visiting selected retail/ auction websites from home, December 2010


Number of persons accessing site (000s)




1,698 Network





Big W


JB Hi-Fi


Harvey Norman






Kmart Australia


Dick Smith Electronics


Target Australia





The Good Guys



Rewards Central





NexTag Network


Grays Online


BigPond Trading Post






Note: Relates to home internet users aged 2 years and over.

Source: Nielsen Online, December 2010, cited in The internet service market and Australians in the online environment

With developments in software applications and ready and cheaper access to increased internet connection speeds, online Australians are accessing video and audio content in increasing numbers. Bandwidth-heavy activities in particular are becoming increasingly common among internet users as more content is offered over the web through various services. These include user-generated content services, such as YouTube, commercially-produced content available through channels such as iTunes movie and BigPond Movies and catch-up viewing services of television broadcasts such as the ABC's iView service. Figure 20 provides an overview of the digital content activities undertaken online by Australians.

Figure 20 Selected digital content activities undertaken online during December 2009 and 2010

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source cited in The internet service market and Australians in the online environment

The growth in digital content online is further reflected in increasing volume of data downloaded via the internet. On average, 18.8 gigabytes of data was downloaded per internet subscriber in Australia during the December quarter of 2010, roughly equivalent to 120 hours of streaming video content on YouTube. This compared to 14.6 gigabytes downloaded during the December quarter of 2009. To support increasing content downloads and online activities, Australian are shifting to higher speed internet services; 46 per cent of internet subscribers in the households sector now subscribe to internet services with an advertised maximum download speed of 8Mbps or more, compared to 30 per cent at December 2009.

Australians are accessing the internet in multiple ways with increasing numbers of people using the internet on the go. While most Australians who accessed the internet did so via a computer (96 per cent during December 2010), increasing numbers of consumers are doing so via their mobile phone handsets. Approximately 3.1 million Australians aged 14 years and over accessed the internet via their mobile phone handset during December 2010, compared to 1.9 million during December 2009. However, mobile handset internet is developing as a complement to the traditional computer, with 98 per cent of these internet users also using the internet via a computer. This is also reflected in the lower levels of handset internet users undertaking activities like e-commerce online via their mobile phones, compared to online activities undertaken via their computers. Consumers appear to be utilising each access device according to a specific need and lifestyle requirement.

Convergence is also enabling the exploitation of a wider range of consumer electronic devices to access the internet, in addition to the mobile phone handset, with more recent developments centred on the entry of internet-enabled TV sets into the Australian market place. These developments are generating significant consumer interest in accessing a wider range of interactive services via the TV as shown in Figure 6. For example, at December 2010, 3.4 million (18 per cent of the total population 14 years and over) and 2.5 million persons (14 per cent of the total population 14 years and over) respectively were estimated to be interested in accessing the internet and making a video call via their TV.

Figure 6 Consumer use of, and attitudes to, enhanced television service offerings, December 2010

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source cited in The internet service market and Australians in the online environment


Last updated: 17 December 2012