Australians hungry for everything the internet has to offer

New Australian Communications and Media Authority research shows that while internet connections have stabilised, Australians’ appetite for data and content is ever-increasing. 

‘Consumers are doing more over the internet, using more devices and accessing more online services,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. ‘Growth in these areas is posing both opportunities and challenges for traditional industry revenue streams.’

Key insights into Australia’s rapidly changing communications and media market are contained in the ACMA Communications report 2013–14 tabled in federal parliament today.

Australians are using more devices to connect to the internet, with nearly seven in 10 of us (68 per cent) using three or more different devices. The most popular are mobile phones (76 per cent), laptop computers (74 per cent), desktop computers (67 per cent) and tablet computers (54 per cent).

Fixed-line data downloads leapt 53 per cent from the previous year, while mobile handset downloads skyrocketed by 97 per cent.

The number of fixed-line telephone connections continued to decline (by more than two per cent) to 9.19 million services, while more than half of 25-34 year-olds are now mobile only. This reflects a 33 per cent rise in the number of adult Australians who have ‘cut the cord’.

Mobile services (voice and data) are now at what is presumed to be saturation levels with services in operation decreasing slightly from 2013 levels to 31.01 million. Similarly, growth of internet connections stabilised with 81 per cent of Australians (14.7 million) having a home internet connection.

The telecommunications industry continues to deliver improved infrastructure to support this intensive engagement with the online world. Mobile network operators have made significant progress in providing 4G mobile networks across the country, while the NBN rollout is moving ahead.

The report shows a significant majority of Australians are generally satisfied with their communications services. 89 per cent of Australians are satisfied or very satisfied with their fixed-line telephone services; 86 per cent for mobile and 79 per cent with their internet service.

Communications report ‘Fast facts’ are available below. A summary video is available here.

ACMA Communications report 2013–14—Fast facts
The ACMA Communications report 2013–14 confirms that Australians are engaging more deeply online through using multiple devices, performing a greater number of activities and going online more often.

Daily life

  • 14.72 million Australians had access to the internet in their home at June 2014.
  • 68 per cent of internet users accessed the internet via three or more devices in the sixth 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.
  • 50 per cent of Australians undertook five or more types of online activities in the previous four weeks at June 2014 and the proportion of people performing no activities dropped by three percentage points to 20 per cent.

Going mobile

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

Over-the-top (OTT) communications services

  • The number of VoIP users increased by six per cent to reach 4.87 million people
  • Strong growth continuing in the use of mobile phone and tablet OTT services, increasing by 41 and 48 per cent respectively.

Downloading and streaming

  • 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.
  • 44 per cent of Australians streamed video or audio content in the six months to June 2014, compared to 40 per cent at June 2013.
  • 8.22 million Australians accessed professionally produced video content services in the six months to May 2014, an increase of 4.6 per cent compared to the six months to May 2013.

Communications service and infrastructure developments

  • There were 1,384 carriage services providers (CSPs) at the end of June 2014, a net increase of 24 over the year, and 208 telecommunications carriers supplying network infrastructure.
  • Australian households connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN). At June 2014, 604,460 premises were passed by the NBN (234,799 at June 2013) and 210,628 premises were activated.
  • Mobile network operators have 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.

The economic value of internet-related transactions

  • Revenue from the sale of goods or services online by businesses operating in Australia reached $246 billion during 2012–13, a $10 billion increase over 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 during 2011.

Telecommunications consumer safeguards
All qualifying CSPs met the Customer Service Guarantee Benchmarks with regard to 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 DNCR 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, in terms of 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 for illegal and offensive online content

  • 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 increase is a result of a rising number of complaints to the ACMA, coupled with greater efficiencies in the ACMA’s pursuit of the removal of such material.

The ACMA Communications report draws on a number of key data sources including:

  • the ACMA’s annual data request to carriers and carriage service providers and other information gathered by the ACMA as part of its day-to-day responsibilities
  • an ACMA-commissioned survey of communication consumers conducted in May 2014, covering both usage over the preceding six months and as a snapshot on the day of the survey in May 2014
  • desk research undertaken by ACMA staff
  • Roy Morgan Single Source
  • data released by other agencies, such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics.