This annual report provides the reader with a through overview of the mobile broadband and media market in Australia in 2009 and shares important analysis of the market in 2010 and beyond.
BuddeComm’s Mobile Broadband and Media annual publication profiles critical elements of the mobile broadband and mobile media sectors in Australia. It provides an overview of the major mobile broadband technologies in use in Australia, as well as analysis and other information relating to the use of mobile broadband media.
All the major mobile broadband providers, Telstra, Optus and VHA (Vodafone and 3) have recently completed upgrades to their mobile networks based on HSPA technologies. High-speed mobile broadband coverage has also been expanded to numerous regional centres in Australia in 2009. In many of these centres broadband over mobile networks is the only alternative to relatively expensive services provided by the largest Australian telecommunications company, Telstra.
As such, competition between fixed-line broadband operators and mobile operators in Australia is likely to intensify in the second half of 2009 and 2010. The outcome of this battle will be critical to the broader domestic telecommunications industry. If mobile broadband operators can effectively compete with fixed-line competitors in providing affordable, moderate-speed broadband, then this will increase downward pressure on revenue earned by fixed-line operators over the next five years.
This report provides an analysis of the prospects for the various mobile network operators. It also examines mobile operators’ efforts with respect to content. The statistical sections of this report provide selected data on SMS and other mobile media services.
Globally, the Australian mobile wireless market holds quite a unique position in 2009. Fixed-line broadband is less developed in Australia than in other western countries. Its availability is not yet widespread, and speeds are lower than those available to consumers in other developed markets. High prices, and in particular restrictive data caps, are making these fixed-line broadband services less attractive.
Although prices have fallen over the last two years, and smaller operators Vodafone and 3 have initially led the market in this respect, services still remain too expensive for the majority of the mass market. It certainly is taking off among the business market and the top-end of the residential market, particularly among professional people.
Mobile data traffic grew steadily in 2008 and this trend is continuing in 2009 albeit at a slightly slower rate. Growth in 2009 will continue to be driven by increasing take-up of capped mobile data tariffs offered by all the major network operators and the increasing availability of compelling mobile web services and content.
Mobile web centric devices have grown more popular in Australia and the success of the iPhone has generated a competitive response from rival handset makers which is further stimulating the market.
The merger of Vodafone and 3’s operations in Australia 2009 will create a significant third force in the mobile broadband market. The combined firm brings together two companies each with a strong mobile Internet brand and a focus on providing competitively priced mobile broadband. Both are popular among the youth segments of the market and combined may be a larger force in the business market too. As such VHA, as the merged firm will be known, is likely to outperform industry peers Optus and Telstra.
The majority of Australian mobile Internet traffic in 2009 will remain to mobile operator portals and affiliated content providers such as free-to-air and pay TV broadcasters.
However, in the longer term data usage trends are likely to be heavily influenced by handsets. In 2009 and 2010 a number of devices competing with the Apple iPhone will be introduced by rival handset makers, in particular Nokia, LG, Samsung and HTC.
Apple’s iPhone and Google’s mobile web applications pose a clear threat to telecommunications operators. For over a decade mobile phone operators have refused to provide better business models that would see their users moving over from traditional voice to data-based usage. Now events may overtake them as mobile web service providers gain control of the subscriber by providing increasingly innovative, useful and affordable services.
With respect to advertising on mobiles, the key advantage mobile web media has over certain traditional formats is the ability to target advertising based on the specific profile of the viewer. The hope is that targeted advertisements will be more effective than the non-focussed equivalent, enabling advertisers to make more effective use of their advertising budgets while simultaneously enabling the industry to command a higher margin when placing advertisements.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.