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Australia's data thirst drives telco investment surge

Australia's data thirst drives telco investment surge

Report shows Australia's data download consumption surged by 52 per cent during the year ending June 2016

Australian Communications and Media Authority acting chairman, Richard Bean

Australian Communications and Media Authority acting chairman, Richard Bean

A new government report has highlighted how Australians’ increasing appetite for digital content is driving profound changes in mobile device use, services, infrastructure, and content delivery.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Communications (ACMA) 2015–16 annual report, tabled in Parliament on 30 November, sheds light on the major trends driving change in the country’s telecommunications landscape.

According to the report, the volume of data downloaded by Australians continues to increase, with a 52 per cent rise in total volume from 1.5 million to 2.2 million terabytes between the June 2015 and June 2016 quarters.

Meanwhile, the majority of data downloaded is predominantly over fixed-line broadband, accounting for 92 per cent of total volume of data downloaded as at the end of June 2016.

However, the volume of data downloaded over mobile handsets also increased by 69 per cent between the June 2015 and June 2016 quarters.

“The continuing increase in digital data traffic has been the main cause of change in the communications sector over the past year,” acting ACMA chairman, Richard Bean, said.

“Australians downloaded 2.2 million terabytes of data in the quarter to June 2016 alone—a 114 per cent increase on two years ago,” he said.

According to the ACMA, the ongoing infrastructure investment by the local communications industry’s biggest players, such as Telstra, Optus, and TPG, has accelerated in response to the growth of data download volumes.

“The continuation of the NBN rollout, expansion of 4G networks, commitments to the rollout of 5G services, and increased planning for submarine cable infrastructure will all contribute to the capacity of communications networks to meet demand,” Bean said.

The report also shows how the data-driven shift is reflected in the changing profile of Australians’ use of communications services. Fixed-line telephone subscriptions, for example, continue to decline, while mobile phone and internet subscriptions continue to increase – they are up by 2.6 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively.

At the same time, the research shows that, while Australians aged 18 and over generally experience high satisfaction with communications services, including fixed telephone, mobile, and internet, consumers are least satisfied with internet services.

The highest levels of internet dissatisfaction among Australians were with data speeds and service costs, with categories claiming dissatisfaction rates of 26 per cent among consumers.

This is consistent with internet activity becoming a more important feature of communications activities, according to the ACMA.

While local telecommunications companies generally demonstrated high levels of compliance with Australia’s Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code across a range of audits and investigations, some local providers ran into trouble.

For the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016, 27 formal warnings were issued and six telecommunications companies received directions to comply with the TCP Code for failing to lodge Communications Compliance (CommCom) documentation the prior financial year.

AussieSim, Datawave, Golden IT, and Harbour of Technology are among the Australian telecommunications providers that received directions from the ACMA, while iTalkBB Australia and Exceed Connect were among those to receive formal warnings.

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Tags dataTPGoptusgovernmentACMATelstra

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