Digital-savvy consumers can’t get enough of online and mobile channels, says a study into nationwide trends by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The appetite for “all things Internet” will continue unabated this decade.
Both online and mobile channels now take up the bulk of day-to-day communications, says the ACMA Internet report.
Among the findings, seven out of 10 consumers or 68 per cent now use three or more different devices. The most popular are mobile phones, laptop computers, desktops and tablets.
Current trends are marked by the intensity of online participation, demand for data downloads, e-commerce and a more widespread streaming of content.
ACMA’s chairman, Chris Chapman, says the demand for content is underscored by a huge growth in the volume of data being accessed online. More Australians are also streaming video services directly using cloud-based applications.
Catalyst for change
This flurry of online and mobile activity is a major catalyst for change across the communications and media market, notes Chapman in an introduction to the latest report. He says the demand for online and mobile apps offers new growth opportunities and challenges for traditional industry revenue streams.
“Looking ahead, Australian telecommunications companies are showing strong growth in machine-to-machine communications,” says Chapman. “As internet-enabled connections grow, this is expected to be an area of increasing activity.”
Among the trends, mobile services are at saturation point. During 2013–14, this was marked by a small decline in the number of mobile services. A similar slow-down was tracked for Internet connections.
Nearly 81 per cent of Australians or 14.7 million now have a home-based Internet connection and there is some slowing down over three years.
At June 2014, there were an estimated 31.01 million mobile voice and data services operating in Australia. This tally included voice and data services over 2G, 3G and 4G services. The inventory included mobile wireless internet services offered over data cards, dongles or USB modems.
Bang for the mobile buck
Consumers are engaging much more intensely in an online or mobile environment. They also download more data and get maximum mileage from mobile devices. Over six months to May 2014, 68 per cent of users accessed the Internet using three or more devices.
There is a shift towards over-the-top and mobile communications for voice services. Moreover, the use of digital media has increased. Now, nearly 6.4 million consumers stream music, movies, TV programs, video clips or radio services.
The video and audio content contributes to larger volumes of data downloads. These downloads are supported by higher-speed internet services on fixed and mobile networks. There are larger download plans and demand for cloud content services.
The growth in mobile internet services is reflected in recent research done by the UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development. This research shows that, out of 138 countries, Australia ranked fourth in terms of mobile-internet penetration per 100 inhabitants at December 2013.
Internet and mobile activity delivers value across all markets, says the ACMA report. Revenue from the sale of goods or services online by businesses operating locally topped $246 billion during 2012–13. This represented a $10 billion increase over the previous year.
Machine-to-machine is the go
Among the emerging areas, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications encompass platforms where devices communicate with each other without human involvement. Examples of M2M services include environmental sensors and metering of utilities or smartphones. These run apps in the background and synchronise data between services.
In coming years, strong growth is expected in the adoption of M2M services. This encompasses apps or services around healthcare, logistics, transport or utilities, among other sectors.
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