By the numbers: Australia’s wireless to fixed substitution

By the numbers: Australia’s wireless to fixed substitution

Summary: Recent figures from the ABS suggest that wireless solutions don’t make the grade for Australian businesses, whatever their size.


As the National Broadband Network delivery trucks continue their eight year journey around the country, regional businesses are crying out for faster fixed speeds.

Across Australia, only 1.1 percent of businesses have a fibre to the premises (FttP) broadband connection — a figure that hasn't moved in the last 12 months. And it's not much higher amongst the one-third of businesses that are classified by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as innovative in their approach; only 1.3 percent of these are connected by FttP.

Larger companies in the big cities find it easier to move to FttP, of course; almost one-fifth of the companies employing 200 or more people are already connected. It is the smaller businesses, many in regional Australia, which will have to wait.

Short term improvements to DSL coverage is helping provide a short term fix, adding weight to the argument that businesses will move to faster fixed speeds if they are available. In 2009-10, 15 percent of innovative 5-19 person companies relied on wireless as their main broadband connection; now, it's down to 7 percent. During that time, the percentage of DSL subscriptions has increased to 77 percent — a sure sign that wireless doesn't make the grade for most small businesses.

(Credit: Phil Dobbie/ZDNet)

The drop in the use of wireless as the primary broadband connection has been biggest in the professional services and retail sectors. In a year, use of wireless connectivity has halved amongst professional service organisations. In retail, fixed wireless has halved, while mobile broadband connectivity has held its ground; 84 percent of retail business though, still use DSL.

Only real estate bucks the trend, with an increasing number of companies claiming that mobile wireless is their primary form of broadband connectivity, reflecting better networks, and the need to be on the road selling. Even so, three quarters still say that DSL is their main connection type.

The figures, from the ABS Selected Characteristics of Australian Business that was released last month, seem to indicate that, if we had better fixed networks, more businesses would move to them. Otherwise, how do we account for the fact that, despite the improvements in mobile coverage and the introduction of 4G, more businesses are moving away from wireless as their primary broadband connection?

Topic: NBN


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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  • 4G in 10/11?

    I don't think so. It'll be a bit more interesting to see what the 12/13 and to a lesser extent 11/12 numbers look like, as 4G will have been available long enough to start making conversions.
  • Or...

    We could accept the figures!
  • NuSkope

    Considering we are booked out 3 weeks in advance. And new demands coming in every day for our services I cant agree with the stats from where I sit.

    Fixed point Wirelessly delivered services have much less overheads, are in most cases faster than everything other than NBN and at least in our case undercut the comparable products in price. We are running around connecting 10/10Mbit and upto 200/200Mbit connections all the time.

    I must presume other states don't have the WISP's around that can offer comparable services at a competitive rate.
    • They wouldnt know of wireless DSL

      nor the infrastrucure savings offered (particularly in regional areas).

      NBNCo fibre connections are running at $4k per premises, what's the comparative cost for your WDSL products?
      Richard Flude
      • Installation

        Install can be from $50.00 --> $15k depending on the grade (res or com), speed and level of SLA then monthly ongoing costs depends on the requirements of the end user. The ongoing overheads are where the savings are for WISP's. We can offer 1:1 to the end user just above cost if thats what they want. this enables large businesses with many staff to get affordable unlimited XX Mbit connections.

        On residentialal level customers can get connected from as low as $50 have 12Mbit - 50Mbit connections at home for as low as $29.95/month with 10GB.

        and for people who think wireless is slow..,1170/Adelaide/?tab=1 where does your ADSL provider rank?