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Australians’ increasing appetite for digital content is driving profound changes in mobile device use, services, infrastructure and content delivery, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Communications report 2015–16, revealing current trends in consumer behaviour and industry responses.
“The continuing increase in digital data traffic has been the main cause of change in the communications sector over the past year,” said acting ACMA Chairman Richard Bean. “Australians downloaded 2.2 million terabytes of data in the quarter to June 2016 alone—a 114 per cent increase on two years ago.”
The communications industry’s ongoing infrastructure investment 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,” advised Bean.
Online content viewing is now firmly established in Australia, with 63 per cent of Australians watching online content (up from 53 per cent). Catch-up and subscription video options, particularly video content downloads, have driven data usage—rather than growth in the number of device plans.
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 continue to decline (down four per cent), while mobile phone and internet subscriptions continue to increase (up 2.6 per and 4.5 per cent respectively).
Over-the-top communication services such as subscription video on demand (SVoD), free-to-air (FTA) live streaming and catch-up services continue to attract increasing numbers of subscribers (2.7 million paid or free trial subscriptions in the past two years).
Among the key findings:
Digital data downloading and traffic is driving profound changes across all the key enabling elements of the communications sector—infrastructure, devices, services and content:
The shift to mobile-phone only households continues:
In 2015–16, continued investment in infrastructure was evident from the roll-out of the NBN to the expansion of 4G mobile networks and plans to increase submarine cable capacity to connect Australia with the rest of the world:
Data traffic appears to be driven more by increasing intensity of usage, particularly video content downloading, rather than significant growth in device subscriptions:
The data-driven shift had a notable impact on the services market through the changing profile of service subscriptions and increased demand for subscription video on demand services:
Content delivery and the changing viewing behaviours by Australians are driving significant developments not only in the online content and broadcasting sectors, but more broadly across the communications industry: