Australian internet users now consume twice as much data than they did a year ago, but figures by Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveal there are still over 200,000 businesses and government agencies on a dial-up connection.
Last June, over a three-month period, Australia downloaded around 55.4 terabytes (TB). This year the figure almost doubled to 99.9TB as more subscribers ditched dial-up for faster ADSL-style fixed line connections or wireless broadband.
The largest cohort of Australian internet service provider (ISP) subscribers in Australia are, according to the ABS's latest figures, on download speeds of 1.5Mbps to 8Mbps. In total there were 2.5 million, roughly 30 per cent of Australia's 8.4 million, internet subscribers (counted as individual services). The number of Australians opting for services that offered these speeds almost doubled in the past year.
The new ABS figures, however, reveal a large number of Australian businesses remain on dial-up connections. The number fell by 15,000 over the past six months, but there are still 215,000 out of a total 1.4 million internet connected businesses on dial-up. There are 1.1 million dial-up subscribers in Australia.
Still, the total number of businesses and/or government agencies that subscribe to a non-dial-up connection increased by 400,000 over the past year, from 726,000 to 1.2 million, suggesting some businesses that had neither form of connection were coming online.
Mobile wireless connections saw significant growth, increasing by 50 per cent or 600,000 in the past six months, to 1.96 million. Mobile wireless has been touted by telcos as the fast growth sector of broadband, with, for example, VHA's claim that its mobile broadband revenues shot up by around 30 per cent last year. It claims to have 926,000 such customers, while at last count Optus claimed it had over 480,000 such customers.
Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin has seized upon the strong growth in mobile broadband as evidence there is a preference for wireless over fixed line services in Australia. Wireless has been positioned as the technology to cover the remaining 10 per cent of Australia's population where it is not economically feasible to connect them to the National Broadband Network (NBN).
"Despite the government's dismissal of wireless technology as 'complementary', the fact is more and more Australians are making an informed decision to substitute fixed line services for wireless services because of their mobility and the flexibility they provide," said Minchin in a statement.
"Every customer who makes the shift [to mobile broadband], is one less customer who will be prepared to pay for fixed line NBN services and Labor has no idea the extent to which this trend will continue into the future or what threat this may pose to the viability of the NBN," Minchin added.