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Australians increasing use of over-the-top telco services: ACMA

The ACMA's communication report for FY2012-13 has said that almost 2 million people use VoIP services from mobile devices.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has warned that the increasing usage of over-the-top (OTT) communications, such as Skype and Apple's iMessage protocol, is threatening the fixed-line and mobile voice revenues of Australia's telecommunications companies.

In its Communications report for 2012-13 (DOCX), the Australian media regulator said that 4.59 million Australians aged 18 or over make use of VoIP, with 1.06 million people using VoIP on mobile handsets, up 73 percent on last year, and usage of VoIP on tablets growing 150 percent to 966,000 people. Usage of VoIP on desktop computers and laptops was stable, while the use of internet phones and voice box/adaptors decreased.

Take-up of VoIP services by household consumers.
Image: ACMA

Putting further pressure on telco revenues, the report said that 3.68 million people with a mobile phone are now without a home fixed-line telephone service, up 18 percent since June 2012.

The report showed the dominance and influence that Telstra is able to exert on the local industry: The Australian telco giant accounted for more customers than the rest of the competition combined. Telstra is able to serve 4.8 million fixed internet customers and 3.6 million mobile broadband customers, while its competitors have approximately 2.9 million customers combined — Optus had just over 1 million fixed internet subscribers at June 2013, iiNet had 840,000, TPG accounted for 671,000 customers, and M2 Group had 412,000 customers.

For mobile customers, Telstra controls 49 percent of the market, Optus is at 31 percent, and Vodafone is at 20 percent. Vodafone's share for the year fell three percentage points, Telstra's share was up three points, and Optus was steady. ACMA said that growth in mobile services was due to the uptake of smartphones, which grew 29 percent to 11.2 million smartphone users in the year to May 2013.

Australians increased their usage of IPTV services for the year by 52 percent, with 7.86 million people using catch-up TV and video-on-demand services.

The report said that by May this year, 14 million Australians had used cloud services, which represented an 11 percent increase on the number of users at May 2012.

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