Australia’s Digital Economy in statistics
Internet and Broadband
Australia is in a unique situation, where the government’s vision for the national broadband network (NBN) has received widespread support. The current stage of development is in progress and that includes fibre, satellite and wireless. These developments will bring faster broadband within the reach of all Australians by the end of the decade. The economic and social changes will be profound in areas such as e-health, smart grids and Internet of things (IoT), as well as the businesses and individuals involved. The NBN developments are discussed in a separate publication.
This report presents tables showing the existing fixed broadband by sectors – including business, residential, ADSL and HFC, as well as a whole sector overview.
Business broadband expansion continues, with many individual employees now also being connected to mobile broadband. These fixed and mobile developments are happening in parallel and are certainly not mutually exclusive. Once faster speeds become more widely available we will see business use explode with the uptake of services such as software as a service, along with cloud computing, online interactions and media conferencing, all services that need high-speed broadband to succeed. Also presented are statistical tables for the ISP market, the residential and business broadband market and the NBN.
Broadcasting and TV
With subscription TV household penetration still around 30%, more content available online through IPTV, the extra FTA channels available for viewing under digital TV, the NBN rollout and faster broadband and the availability of digital radio, the broadcasting industry will need to change over the coming years if it is to attract and retain the audiences that have increased over the last 50 years.
The switch from analogue TV commenced in 2010 and is being phased throughout Australia until 2013 when analogue TV broadcasts will have ceased. A number of regions have now switched completely from analogue to digital, and of these regions most have hit 100% household penetration leading up to the changeover, with some users being assisted by the Household Assistance Scheme or the Satellite Subsidy Scheme. With free-to-air TV digital channels increasing since 2010, pay-TV companies have also added new channels to try to combat increasing churn, although their ARPUs have been increasing.
In early 2012, YouTube was the second-most-visited site in Australia. IPTV may get the revival it needs in 2012 with more widespread ADSL2+ broadband available, the prospect of new business models on the NBN and a new look at Triple Play models is putting IPTV back on the agenda again – if the pricing is right.
The increased takeup of smart TVs has seen sales increase by more than 20% in the last year as smart TVs are now becoming a must have item for the consumer.
The commercial and national broadcasters (ABC and SBS) formally commenced digital radio services in the five mainland state capitals in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney in 2009. Trials of digital radio are still progressing in Canberra and Darwin in 2012 as an extension of the trial was granted in 2011.
Digital entertainment and media
The digital media market is changing as it has been impacted upon many aspects of the media industry of old. These changes, combined with an economic downturn, led to much unrest in the media sector. Moving into digital entertainment there are several competing sectors. These sectors include – TV and radio broadcasting, newspaper publishers, the film and video industries – as well as the new Internet-based companies.
The Internet-based media companies are the clear leaders in the digital entertainment arena. However for the time being there are, to a certain extent, parallel developments – one driven by digital TV, using the traditional broadcasting networks, and one driven by broadband, using new fixed and mobile telco infrastructure. The arrival of smart TV will bring about a much closer alignment of these two developments, which most certainly will lead to further disruptive developments in the industry.
In Australia the NBN will be the next playing arena. Once again the media has largely been absent from this debate but the NBN will create new changes with new options. Already, the telecommunications, entertainment, video and multimedia markets in Australia are undergoing sweeping changes. These are currently characterised by the increasing array of products and services that can be delivered to consumers over this infrastructure. This will mean that subscription TV and cable TV operators, telecommunications firms, consumer electronics and IT companies will all be competing to provide various digital media services.
The new digital market has also affected the newspaper publishers, some of which have been among those hardest hit by the massive changes that are taking place as a consequence of rapidly changing digital technologies.
By early 2012 the number of users of the social networking sites continues to grow, with over 15 million users of the major social networking sites in Australia. Increased use of mobile broadband through mobile devices is driving consumer uptake, with many businesses now investing in social media and also expecting a return. The converged networks are seeing gaming, music, movies and gambling merging, integrating and moving online as well.
E-commerce, marketing and advertising
A positive outcome from the financial crisis was that it resulted in global attention turning to new infrastructure developments; facilitating a unique opportunity to shift the broadband emphasis from a high-speed Internet service to a national infrastructure for the digital economy that will underpin a range of positive social and economic developments. E-commerce is just one sector that will benefit from improvements in infrastructure and a trans-sector approach to governance; e-government, e-health, e-education, social media and e-science are also important elements of a digital economy.
The e-commerce sector has become very competitive and different types of players are vying for position. A number of key developments have occurred, particularly in the mobile digital wallet space and with websites which offer “deals of the day”. New social media concepts such as Facebook Credits and Pinterest may also offer future e-commerce opportunities.
In the digital economy we are seeing spending on online advertising expenditure in Australia continuing to reach new highs. Driving the spending is often mobile devices where purchases can be made on a whim or as the need arises and by comparison shopping using the mobile device. Online advertising had increased overall by around 17% year-on-year in 2011.The increased use of video advertising and also video viewing continues to grow as the increase in broadband availability has seen advertisers continue to experiment with new formats.
Mobile banking and e-banking is currently the big consumer ‘bank’ where most electronic transactions are done. But within a year or two, the open Android platform together with an open API type access platform there is a possibility m-commerce transactions will see the takeup of mobile money transfers slowly moving away from the big banks. M-payments, however, could still be a lucrative market for the telcos, since they have the opportunity to bill customers via their mobile billing system and have the large customer databases. But telcos are combining to create international money transfer hubs that are being increasingly by mobile phone operators and will also challenge the banks.
Across the world there are a significant number of social and economic challenges – stagnating economies, ageing population, climate change, peak oil, aging infrastructure, lifelong education. A key problem associated with these challenges is a lack of smart government policies based on integrated solutions that cross sector boundaries. Over the last few years citizens all over the world have indicated that they are ready for change. We have seen this in relation to climate change issues and the readiness of users to take up new and modern means of communication and through them participate in many decision making processes.
Australia is building the large-scale national infrastructure necessary to underpin the transformations that are needed. The government is rolling out the NBN that will help to create a smart country, smart cities and communities as well as smart buildings. Education, information and ongoing community engagement are going to be critical areas in ensuring that the projects receive the widespread support needed to make them successful.
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