Mon, 27 Apr 2020 - 10:18
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Latest figures show NBN carries large and growing share of all data downloaded in Australia

The ACCC’s latest internet activity report shows the NBN continues to grow in importance in the everyday lives of Australians.

Total data downloaded over the NBN was 4.7 million terabytes for the December quarter 2019.  Not only is this a massive amount of data, what is really remarkable is how fast this number is growing.  It is up 37% in just 6 months, from the 3.5 million terabytes downloaded in the June quarter.  On an annual basis it is growing at a remarkable 86%. 

Two factors are driving this high growth rate. The number of NBN subscribers is growing strongly. Over the 6 month period to December 2019, users jumped by 17 per cent, from 4.9 million to 5.7 million users. On an annual basis the number of subscribers is growing at 36%.

The second factor is continuing strong growth in the amount of data downloaded per user.  Over six months this rose from 236 Gigabytes (GB) to 277 GB per month, a 17% increase.  The annual growth rate is 37 per cent.

There is a considerable and widening gap between the amount of data non NBN users are downloading and the amount downloaded by people who use the NBN.  Non NBN users downloaded 224 GB in the December quarter.  This was a five per cent increase from the June quarter, significantly less than the 17 per cent increase seen on the NBN.  

On the latest numbers, NBN users on average download 23% more data than non-NBN fixed line subscribers – and this gap is growing.

The ACCC numbers also show that the amount of data downloaded over mobile networks is much lower than over the NBN and other fixed networks.  For the December quarter 0.76 terabytes of data was downloaded over mobile networks.  This grew 10 per cent over a six month period, lower than the 16 per cent growth for the same period seen on fixed networks.  

The share of total data downloaded which went over a fixed network was 89 per cent, a slight increase on the 88.5 per cent at which it stood six months previously.

And of the data downloaded across all networks, NBN accounted for 69 per cent of that data in the December 2019 quarter – sharply up from the 6 months previously when it stood at 58 per cent.  This reflects the continuing migration of customers from Telstra’s copper network to the NBN, and the fact that NBN subscribers are growing their usage of the internet at a faster pace than other internet users.

Some have suggested that the growth of 4G and 5G mobile services will see the NBN become less important.  On the most recent figures, that is certainly not what we are seeing. NBN is carrying the lion’s share of all data downloaded in Australia – and NBN users are increasing their data consumption at a faster rate than users of other networks.