Australian wireless broadband subscriptions have almost doubled in the last six months to reach 809,000, according to a report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The ABS' Internet Activity report said the massive boost brought the proportion of wireless broadband to 14 per cent of all internet subscriptions in Australia.
Total internet subscriptions were up 7.2 per cent to 7.2 million in the period. Of these subscribers 80 per cent had broadband. ADSL was still by far the most popular broadband technology, accounting for more than half of all broadband subscriptions (54 per cent).
Nathan Burley, an analyst for Ovum, said the increase in wireless subscribers (the category included 3G mobile broadband subscribers) was most likely due to a rapid drop in price.
"We saw a price war towards the end of last year and earlier this year, so a dramatic lowering of costs made it very affordable for mobile broadband subscribers," he said, "From June , there has been a 60 per cent reduction".
However, Burley said that this drop in price was unlikely to continue. "Mobile broadband [prices] are probably starting to bottom out. There is signs that there are problems on some of the networks ... operators are not provisioning enough capacity."
Burley said that the wireless internet growth was not driven by business, which often required a faster connection. "In terms of business market we see it as more complementary rather than as a substitute," he said.
Another reason that Burley cited for the increase in popularity of wireless broadband was its competitiveness compared to low-speed DSL connections.
"If you look at the ABS figures, the number of subscribers that are on 256Kbps or 512Kbps plans is still a very large proportion of the subscriber base. A person who is still on that sort of connection could easily operate on a wireless network," he said.
Burley said that wireless broadband's competitiveness with budget DSL would continue to drive its growth. "All of those connections are a possible for mobile operators to churn across to wireless."