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ACMA Communications Report shows ever greater consumption of data – and reliance on mobile

This last week saw the issue of the 2013-14 Communications Report from the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The report - which is produced each year by the government agency which oversees the Australian communications sector - contains some fascinating data about how Australians are using the internet and mobile communications devices.

Three things really stand out.

First, more and more people are relying on a mobile phone or device for their communications needs - and completely dispensing with a fixed line phone. This is particularly evident amongst younger Australians. Over 50% of 25-34 year-olds are now mobile only – that is, they do not have a fixed line phone.

Secondly, the amount of data we are all using is continuing to rocket ahead. In the 2013-14 year the volume of fixed-line data downloads increased by 53% - and the volume downloaded on mobile devices rose by a staggering 97%.

The third stand out from the report is that the majority of us are using multiple devices to get online. In fact, 68% of Australians use three or more different internet devices. The most popular are mobile phones (which 76 per cent of us use to get online), laptop computers (74 per cent), desktop computers (67 per cent) and tablet computers (54 per cent).

Australia is a very connected nation. There are some 31 million mobile services in operation – meaning many of us have more than one. As for fixed line internet connections, 14.7 million Australians have a fixed line internet connection at home.

The picture painted by this report is very consistent with the priorities the Abbott Government is pursuing in communications. As the National Broadband Network rolls out to more and more homes, we will likely see the volume of data downloaded continue to rise very sharply on both fixed and mobile networks.

We are also investing $100 million to fix mobile black spots in regional and remote Australia. This is expected to deliver around 250 to 300 new mobile phone base stations around the country, allowing many people living and working in areas without mobile coverage today to enjoy the same mobile connectivity – for both voice and data – that most Australians take for granted.

But ultimately these trends of ever greater consumption of data, and ever greater reliance on mobile communication, will be driven by consumer demand – and by the response from the many businesses in the communications sector such as Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, iiNet and TPG. The findings from the 2013-14 report suggest that consumer demand for communications services will continue to grow strongly – and no doubt providers will continue to improve their services to meet that demand.