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OZ Data Hungry But Will Networks Choke?


Aussies downloaded an astonishing 421,147 terabytes of data from the web in the last year – a 52% jump on 2011.

And there are almost 30 million mobile phone services in use and 22m on mobile Internet services – wireless 3G and 4G –  soaring 22% in 12 months.

That’s a hell of a lot of traffic on networks and possible congestion as the usage numbers increase at an alarming rate.

 To 30 June, nearly half of all adults owned a mobile with Internet, double last year’s figure, according to ACMA’s latest Communications report

And worryingly, there was 296,000 complaints about mobile phone service during 2011-12 (+3%), which suggests there could be more mobile issues to come.

Lets face it, we’ve all tried to send a text and make calls only for the network to crash.

“It won’t get better but it won’t get any worse,” says Chris Coughlan, Telsyte analyst.

The main issues with mobile services are usually with Internet data services, driven by massive smartphone usage.

“Telstra is proactive in managing demand ….its move last year to 4G LTE network was more about capacity than anything else, as it allowed them use 1800 MHz spectrum which is currently underused on GSM networks,” says Coughlan.

“Vodafone is getting on top of it after its network ‘issues’ and are spending a lot of money to keep ahead.” 

Optus is also “well placed” as it investing in 3G+ network is starting to kick off TD-LTE 4G network which has a high capacity,
but its problem may be in regional areas where it relies on GSM spectrum.

The news comes as Optus revealed plans this week to test cloud technology which would allow its network to handle larger capacity in big events like the AFL Grand Final, Melbourne Cup or concerts.

Most of the 260K complaints to the Telco Ombudsman last year were pertaining to ‘bill shock’ but this will ease off as all the telcos are putting alerts notifying users when they reach their cap allowance, says Coughlan.

There are almost 29m subscribed to an Internet service in Oz, in total, whether its fixed, wireless or mobile in Oz. 

“Australia has moved from baby steps to giant steps in the online world with its digital footprint expanding rapidly during 2011-12,” said ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman.

10.8 million go online at least once a day, and most of us spend 82 hours a month surfing the net.

Mobile and internet services are driving growth, says Chapman, and Australia has one of the highest penetration of smartphones in the world.

“Australians are increasingly connected, adopting whichever devices best meet their needs.”

Almsot 50% of us communicate mainly using mobiles, with just over 20% of our communications are via fixed-line phones and email (22%).

There are 3.1 million mobile users without a fixed-line phone. 

“But all the telcos have to invest in their mobile networks to meet future demand,” says Telstye’s analyst, the challenge is increasing revenues to fund the investment, as average revenue per user declines.

However, if capacity starts to cost too much, prices of mobile services will rise, he believes.