The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released its report on the state of Australian communications sector for the last year. The ACMA is the broadcasting and telecoms regulator for Australia – and it has found that high-tech mobile devices have driven a massive surge of mobile data usage in the country.
What are the details?
From the end of 2008 to the end of 2008, Australia has gone through something of a renaissance in mobile internet – and it has been driven by operators and the presence of smartphones.
Mobile operators in Australia sank a vast amount of money into increasing the coverage of their mobile data services. By the end of the year of 99% of the population had 3G coverage, with a huge amount of investment going into making these networks capable of high speed HDSPA connections.
Traditional voice calls are decreasing. Telstra, the largest mobile operator in the country, showed that revenue from mobile services was higher than from traditional phone calls for the first time. The number of fixed line phones in the country dropped by 100s of thousands, and it is estimated 10% of all Australian over the age of 14 didn’t have a fixed line phone during 2009. Part of the reason for this is the increasing popularity of 3G and VoIP services.
Then there comes a slightly confusing paragraph, which is nonetheless very impressive. I’m going to reproduce here in full because I’m not entirely sure what the ACMA means here:
Australians continued to shift to mobile services with an estimated 24.22 million mobile services in operation at June 2009. This is an increase of nine per cent since June 2008, and represents an overall penetration level of 110 per cent. 3G services continue to drive growth… at June 2009, there were approximately 12.28 million 3G services in operation, an increase of 44 per cent since June 2008.
What exactly do they mean by 24.22 million mobile services? They can’t be talking about separate services, there aren’t even that number of mobile apps in existence. Are they talking about installed instances of mobile services running on different devices? That would make more sense. And it that’s the case, those really are impressive increases. The ACMA attributes this massive growth to smartphones – as the Australian people become more aware of how functional new handsets are, they are rushing to avail themselves of the services.
Chris Chapman, chairman of the ACMA said that “digital convergence is well and truly with us. During 2008-09, Australians continued to adopt new communication and media services and adapt their usage patterns to meet their specific lifestyle needs. Services such as 3G, VoIP and wireless broadband internet are being increasingly used, with factors such as lifestyle, age and family type shaping these choices.
What we think?
So Australia operators have found that the consumers are hungry for the services being provided. Good for them – and, happily, no de la Vega-like squeals about people using too much data. Although that might come during 2010!