Users shun fixed line, flock to 3G

Mobile phone services grow by 4 million: 2009 report

Adoption and use of 3G networks and wireless broadband exploded last year as consumers flocked to grab the latest Internet-ready mobile, according to new research.

A report from communications watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), noted the take-up of wireless broadband grew by 162 per cent on last year and users downloaded close to 100,000 terabits, up a whopping 80 per cent on 2008 figures.

More than one million new broadband users signed on last year, bringing the total to 6.72 million. Wireless subscribers accounted for a quarter of all Internet users, up 11 per cent on the previous year.

The surge in broadband usage helped push a four per cent increase in the number of people shopping and banking online, and a 27 per cent spike in advertising revenues to $1.7 billion at the end of 2008.

ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, said the surge in uptake of mobile broadband increases the need to change fixed-line regulation.

“Services such as 3G, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and wireless broadband internet are being increasingly used, with factors such as lifestyle, age and family type shaping these choices,” Chapman said.

“While this is encouraging, it again also raises issues for operating within a regulatory framework built on many traditional fixed line telephony assumptions.”

The number of wireless broadband services has exceeded 2.1 million following last year’s spike, but fixed line telephone services fell by three per cent to 10.7 million over the same period.

The ACMA Communications Report 2008-09 also found 3G mobile phone services ballooned by almost four million to 12.28 million due to next-generation handsets and new data-intensive services, while revenue from mobile networks exceeded those of fixed line services. Mobile phone services overall grew to 24.22 million, up from 22.12 million last year.

Complaints from consumers and small businesses about phone and Internet providers also increased last year by some 54 per cent, according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).

In the TIO’s annual report, the Ombudsman, Deirdre O’Donnell, called for the industry to pick up its game as the level of complaints around customer service were still "unacceptably high".

In the 2008-09 period the TIO responded to 230,065 complaints, but 90 per cent were referred back to the service providers. The highest increase was in mobile phone customers with a 79 per cent rise, the TIO said in a statement. This was followed by Internet (57 per cent) and landline (40 per cent) users. Billing and payments, however, remained the biggest concern.

"The increases reflect the greater take-up of broadband internet services and a greater variety of services offered through mobile phones used by Australian consumers," O’Donnell said.

The TIO is not the only organisation to criticise the telecommunications industry. In March, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) warned the Australian telecommunications industry to better deal with consumers and eradicate misleading advertising, unfair contracts and deceptive mobile phone competitions, or face the wrath of the Trade Practices Act.Adoption and use of 3G networks and wireless broadband exploded last year as consumers flocked to grab the latest Internet-ready mobile, according to new research.

A report from the communications watchdog noted take-up of wireless broadband grew by 162 percent on last year, while users downloaded close to 100,000 terabits, up a whopping 80 percent on 2008 figures.

Last year saw more than one million new broadband subscribers, bringing the total to 6.72 million, with wireless subscribers accounting for a quarter of all Internet users, up 11 percent on the previous year.

The surge in broadband usage helped push a four percent increase in the number of people shopping and banking online, and a 27 percent spike in advertising revenues to $1.7 billion at the end of 2008.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) chairman Chris Chapman said the surge in uptake of mobile broadband increases the need to change fixed-line regulation.

“Services such as 3G, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and wireless broadband internet are being increasingly used, with factors such as lifestyle, age and family type shaping these choices,” Chapman said.

“While this is encouraging, it again also raises issues for operating within a regulatory framework built on many traditional fixed line telephony assumptions.”

While the number of wireless broadband services has exceeded 2.1 million following last year’s spike, fixed line telephone services fell by three percent to 10.7 million over the same period.

The ACMA Communications Report 2008-09 also found mobile phone services ballooned by almost four million to 12.28 million due to next-gen handsets and new data-intensive services, while revenue from mobile networks exceeded those of fixed line services.

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