The importance of mobility in the enterprise IT mix has been highlighted once again in the latest report by Australia’s telco industry regulator, which shows that more Australians connect to the internet via their mobile phones than by any other means.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Communications report 2016-17, tabled in Federal Parliament on 8 December, revealed that mobile phones are the most popular and frequently used device for internet access in the country.
According to the ACMA, an estimated 33.64 million mobile voice and data services were in operation in Australia as of June 2017, representing an increase of 3.2 per cent compared to the previous year.
“While the use of a mobile phone overall appears to have reached saturation levels, smartphone ownership grew in 2016–17, increasing by 17 percentage points from 64 per cent four years ago,” the report stated. “This growth is reflected by the number of mobile phone shipments to Australia, which grew by 18.4 per cent to reach 2.16 million phones for Q2 2017.
“This number is forecast to rise to over nine million handsets in 2018, boosted by Nokia’s re-entry into the market under HMD and Amazon’s launch into Australia,” it said.
As of June this year, 15.45 million Australian adults owned a smartphone, or around roughly eight out of 10, while total ownership of mobile phones of any kind in Australia runs to 95 per cent.
The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), meanwhile, shows that mobile handset subscribers increased six per cent in the 12 months to June 2017, reaching 26.33 million subscribers.
At the same time, mobile wireless internet subscribers increased by one per cent to reach 6.11 million subscribers
“The mobile phone was also the most often accessed internet device,” the ACMA said. “In the six months to June 2017, eight in 10 online Australians (79 per cent) used a mobile phone multiple times a day to access the internet.”
The telco Authority pointed out, however, that this figure dropped to between 41 and 45 per cent for devices such as tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
If the analysis in the report is anything to go by, one of the main factors contributing to the dominance of smartphone usage in internet connection among Australians is the economics of smartphone ownership and usage compared to fixed-line data services and landline telephone services.
“For many Australians, it has become more economical to use a mobile phone and a lot harder to justify the expense of keeping a landline,” the ACMA said. “An increasing proportion now rely solely on their mobile phones to stay in touch with others, with mobile-only consumers…continuing to grow."
As of June 2017, 6.67 million of Australian adults were mobile-only for phone services, representing 36 per cent of the country’s total, up from 31 per cent in 2016. At the same time, however, the increase of mobile only phone users is also likely to drive up mobile-based internet usage.
“Mobile-only can also be extended to internet access, giving rise to an emerging concept of ‘mobile-only for internet’,” the report said. “This refers to those who only use their mobile phone to access the internet and do not have a fixed-internet connection at home.
“At June 2017, 19 per cent of Australian adults used either a mobile phone or mobile broadband to go online, or accessed the internet from a location outside of the home. In the same period, six per cent of Australian adults used only their smartphone to access the internet,” it said.