Growth of mobile downloads outstrips fixed line, ABS finds

Bureau issues its final Internet usage report

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Australians’ appetite for Internet services reveal — unsurprisingly — that downloads continue to soar, reaching more than 4.08 exabytes in the three months ending 30 June.

(The ABS’s figures are based on figures provided to it from telcos with more than 1000 subscribers.)

The vast majority of those downloads, 3,714,068 terabytes, were over fixed broadband connections. Some 123,147TB of data was downloaded over wireless broadband services, which in addition to SIM-based mobile services for tablets and USB dongles includes satellite and fixed wireless connections. Mobile handset downloads contributed 246,765TB.

The year-on-year growth rate of both the wireless broadband and mobile segments eclipsed fixed line.

Twelve months earlier, some 82,727TB of data was downloaded over wireless broadband connections — compared to 2,913,245TB over fixed line services, and 175,076TB using mobile handsets. Mobile downloads are likely to be significantly higher than the ABS’s figures indicate, because quota-free downloads (such as the sports streaming services offered by some telcos) are not included — the ABS includes only revenue-generating downloads.

(The fixed line category includes DSL, cable, fibre and other fixed line broadband connections — in 2017 the ABS decided to no longer track dial-up subscribers because of the significant decline in use of the technology.)

Looking at the year-on-year figures, wireless broadband downloads enjoyed close to 49 per cent growth, compared to just over 27 per cent for fixed broadband and close to 41 per cent for mobile.

Fixed wireless is one of the key technologies being used to deliver the NBN.

Overall, the ABS observed, although the growth in the number of Australian broadband subscribers has remained stable, the growth in the volume of data downloaded has slowed.

Mobile handset subscribers increased only slightly over a 12 month period, from 26.33 million to 26.98 million.

Fixed wireless and fibre-based connections increased significantly over the course of 12 months, while ADSL declined from 4.23 million to 3.2 million. Fibre connections grew 69.8 per cent over the same period, reaching 3.64 million by the end of June.

This edition of the ABS’s Internet usage report is the agency’s final. Instead the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission from the December 2018 reporting period onwards will collect and analyse Internet activity data though an Internet Activity Record Keeping Rule it has established.

“The ACCC will also periodically release aggregate level internet activity metrics, based on the data gathered from the RKR,” the ACCC said in a consultation paper released earlier this year.

“This output, to be made available on the ACCC website, will seek to inform the general public, industry, government agencies and other users about internet activity in Australia.”

The ACCC also runs a separate broadband performance reporting program that compares the services of major Australian telcos.

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Tags broadbandinternetNetworkingTelecommunicationsAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

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