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Australia - Mobile Communications - Statistics and Forecasts


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

Prepaid and 4G subscribers new growth areas into 2013

The mobile communications market in Australia has seen lots of infrastructure activity in the last year from the mobile network operators (MNOs), with some of the results of that activity still to come to fruition into 2013 and beyond. New investments are driven by a rapidly changing market led by consumer demand, handset saturation and the demand of faster-speed technologies in the fixed- broadband market. Competition in the mobile sector is driving the mobile market to a lower dollar value return on a user basis. This is being compensated by more data use on a variety of mobile devices and growth in the emerging M2M market.

With the mobile handset market being driven by smartphone uptake, this is also driving mobile broadband usage and the increase of over-the-top applications that are now depriving the mobile network operators from their traditional income streams. Mobile voice calls have now reached their peak and will start a slight level of ongoing decrease over coming years.

In this report we provide historical figures and estimate that total mobile services revenue are expected to exceed $17.5 billion in 2012. Yet since the introduction of the lower network termination rates, decreasing costs of monthly mobile broadband to consumers, growth rates may even slow further. But there is still an opportunity of growth for the telcos. This growth will come from the newer 4G networks that has seen devices and phones already released from one MNO, Telstra. In this report we also detail how more 4G networks will be released by the other MNOs into 2012/13.

In Australia there are more mobile users than there are people. While revenue growth is likely to continue in the next few years as smartphone uptake increases, growth will continues at a much slower rate than we have previously seen. Now that subscriber penetration rates are over 130% of the population, in this report we anticipate a subscriber growth of less than 2% into 2012/13 as the market further saturates.

The Australian MNOs (Optus, Telstra, and Vodafone) are likely to have more than 29 million mobile subscribers by late 2012 as more users continue to migrate to a mobile only environment. Telstra continues to be the market leader with more than 13 million subscribers.

As the smartphone sector in Australia takes off, in mid-2012 we see that the Android market has overtaken the iPhone as the user’s choice as the top smartphone. But with the 4G handset market about to expand as users come off plans, the changing of leading brands may occur once again and we will see applications and data usage further increase placing strains on the limited spectrum availability.

While overall mobile services revenue growth by the mobile network operators over the last financial years has decreased on a year-on-year bases, in 2012 we are seeing a further slowdown in growth with revenue growth going negative for Vodafone. While the issues that saw Vodafone revenues slide are unique, the price competitiveness of a mobile service together with increased offerings from the MVNOs will no doubt see growth level off for the next couple of years.

This report also provides analysis of high-level revenue, market shares and revenue growth, as well as revenue earned from mobile voice and mobile data services. In addition, we include selected additional statistical data relating to prepaid and postpaid revenue and average revenue per user for selected mobile voice and data services.

We provide information in the report including that the Australian Communications and Media Authority flagged spectrum shortages and made recommendations on how to secure extra bandwidth. These include details on the Ultra-high-frequency spectrum block that is expected to be available at the end of 2013, while other frequencies in the 700MHz and 2.5GHz frequencies ranges are to be reallocated across the 2011-2016 time frame.

Information relating to the radio spectrum used to provide wireless and mobile telephony services in Australia. Also provided is selected details of spectrum ownership and its usage by network operators is also provided in the report.

The importance of phone supply channels from the mobile retail market is included as retailers are fast becoming the focus point for interaction with customers, many of whom have individual needs which require a higher level of customer service. Information that we provide on the new TCP Code that commences in September 2012 will probably see customer satisfaction levels in relation to billing disputes drop rapidly as new contracts begin or existing contracts are resigned by customers in the replacement market.

Not to be left out, those in regional and remote areas of Australia also need mobile services. Mobile satellite services are crucial in Australia to ensure universal access to basic telephony products in very remote areas. These services are also required for operations such as sea-based communications and outback mining companies, where there is limited or no 2G/3G mobile phone coverage and fleet-tracking services. We provide an overview of the market, an overview of the operators and some statistics on users and revenue.

Market highlights:

There are six million more mobile phones than there are people in Australia.

Mobile subscriber penetration still climbing above 130% even in a saturated market.

Vodafone losing market share as subscribers churn away from the merged company while Vodafone subscriber market share may only be 50% of that of Telstra by 2013.

Subscribers taking up 4G services with more to 4G services to become available into 2012/13.

Telstra now the king of prepaid subscribers with more prepaid subscribers than postpaid.

The smartphone market continues to grow with more than 60% penetration by end-2012

Short term spectrum shortages are seeing 2G spectrum being refarmed by the operators as 3G and 4G.

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.


1. The Market in mid-2012
1.1 Market and industry analyses
1.1.1 Two years a strong mobile competition
1.1.2 Competition moving forwards over 2012-2013
1.1.3 Only structural change can save the mobile industry
1.1.4 High demand for mobile broadband
1.1.5 Mobile broadband – killer app for FttH
1.1.6 Watch out for the next WiFi wave
1.1.7 Spectrum key to broadband utility
1.2 Overview of trends and developments
1.2.1 Mobile broadband
1.2.2 Mobile subscribers
1.2.3 Mobile voice
1.2.4 Network termination rates lowered may drive mobile competition
1.2.5 Smartphones
2. Industry Overview
2.1 Background information
2.2 Mobile coverage remains major problem for the region
2.3 Consumer rip-off stops with new Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code
2.4 Mobile calling plan standardisation a start to a clearer choice
2.5 Mobile network operators (MNOs)
2.5.1 Telstra
2.5.2 SingTel Optus
2.5.3 Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA)
2.6 Network technologies
2.6.1 HSPA-based services
2.6.2 Long-term evolution (LTE)
2.6.3 2G services (historic)
2.7 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
2.7.1 Background MVNO information
2.7.2 Overview of market
2.7.3 Other developments in the MVNO market
2.7.4 Amaysim
2.7.5 Red Bull MOBILE
2.7.6 Lebara Mobile
2.7.7 Macquarie Telecom
2.7.8 Virgin Mobile
2.7.9 Woolworths
2.8 Mobile resellers
2.8.1 Background information
2.8.2 Resellers on the Telstra network
2.8.3 Resellers on the Optus network
2.8.4 Resellers on the Vodafone network
2.9 Mobile Virtual Network Enablers (MVNEs)
2.9.1 Background information
2.9.2 Pivotel
2.9.3 M2 Telecommunications Group
3. Subscriber Statistics
3.1 Statistical sources
3.2 Mobile subscriber statistics
3.2.1 Total subscribers and annual growth rates
3.2.2 Operator market shares and growth
3.2.3 2G, 3G and 4G subscribers
3.2.4 Prepaid and postpaid subscribers by operator
3.2.5 Wholesale market
4. Revenue Overview and Statistics
4.1 Total mobile services revenue and forecasts
4.1.1 Overview of current year
4.1.2 Moving towards 2014
4.2 Operator statistics
4.2.1 Background
4.2.2 Revenue per major operator
4.2.3 Revenue growth
4.2.4 Revenue share
4.2.5 Revenue by service
4.2.6 Average revenue per user (ARPU)
5. Spectrum Overview
5.1 Overview
5.2 Spectrum regulations
5.2.1 Background information
5.2.2 Australian Radiofrequency Plan
5.3 ACMA five-year outlook – 2012 - 2016
5.3.1 Spectrum demand overview
5.3.2 Towards 2020 – Future spectrum requirements
5.3.3 Regulatory issues
5.3.4 Fifteen-year spectrum licence pathway
5.3.5 ACMA takes steps to improve spectrum trading arrangements
5.3.6 Spectrum issue – more to it than meets the eye (analysis)
5.4 Spectrum-based services
5.4.1 Background information
5.4.2 Mobile services
5.4.3 WiMAX wireless services
5.4.4 Ultra-Wideband services (UWB)
5.4.5 New broadband wireless technology
5.5 Spectrum ownership and licences
5.5.1 Mobile spectrum
5.5.2 Apparatus licences
5.5.3 Unlicensed spectrum (IMS)
5.6 Spectrum auctions
6. 3G Infrastructure
6.1 Background information
6.2 Network operators
6.2.1 Telstra
6.2.2 Optus
6.2.3 VHA
6.3 Mobile sites infrastructure
6.3.1 Overview and statistics
6.3.2 Crown Castle
6.4 Infrastructure analysis
6.4.1 Structural separation and open networks
6.4.2 Squeezed out of the content markets
6.4.3 Mobile broadband market
6.5 Mobile broadband High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) and Long-term evolution (LTE)
7. Retail Market
7.1 An overview of the mobile retail market in 2012
7.1.1 Major retail categories
7.1.2 Retail margins
7.1.3 Retail revenues
7.1.4 Consolidation
7.1.5 The move from prepaid to postpaid
7.1.6 Superior customer care to come from a new TCP Code
7.1.7 Replacement market
7.2 Major mobile retail companies
7.2.1 Background information
7.2.2 Vertically integrated operators
7.2.3 Independents retailing services exclusively for mobile operators
7.2.4 Independents retailing services for a variety of network operators
8. Handset Market
8.1 Market overview – mid-2012
8.1.1 Trends in mobile handset market
8.1.2 Service provider-driven market
8.1.3 Replacement market
8.1.4 Android sales overtake iPhone but ARPU went down in 2011
8.1.5 Smartphone app gives shoppers access to great deals
8.2 Predictions towards 2013 and beyond
8.2.1 Smartphone uptake passes the tipping point
8.2.2 Smartphones driving data usage
8.2.3 Tablets
8.3 Handset statistics
8.3.1 Shipments
8.3.2 Handset recycling
8.3.3 Handset supplier market shares
8.4 Analysis
8.4.1 Overview
8.4.2 Apple and Google – hijacking the mobile operators
8.4.3 Mobile vendors set to lose the proprietary battle
8.4.4 Mid-tier mobile phones to decline
8.4.5 Rise of smartphones
8.5 Market surveys
8.5.1 Overview
8.5.2 Smartphones lead to higher data spend
8.5.3 Smartphone users are action buyers
8.5.4 Tablet uptake and usage increases
8.5.5 Phone usage for no phone activities increasing
8.5.6 Smartphone users are increasing
8.5.7 iPhone takes out top spot globally
8.5.8 Smartphone usage
8.5.9 Smartphones and internet usage
8.6 Safety and security issues
8.6.1 Cyber bullying and use of mobile phones by children
8.6.2 Children and the internet
8.6.3 Mobile security
8.6.4 Mobile phones – malware, trojans and viruses
9. Mobile Satellite Services
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Second generation satellites with Globalstar to benefit rural Australians
9.3 Twitter on satellite phones
9.4 Public subsidies and regulation
9.4.1 Overview
9.4.2 Mobile satellite service band plan
9.4.3 Mobile satellite phone subsidies
9.5 Overview of operators
9.5.1 Telstra
9.5.2 Optus
9.5.3 Pivotal Group
9.5.4 VIX QuikTrak
9.5.5 AST Australia
9.5.6 Addcom
9.5.7 Indigo Telecom
9.5.8 FedSat – Australia’s low earth orbit satellite (historic)
9.6 Usage and revenue estimates
9.6.1 Background information
9.6.2 Revenue
10. Glossary of Abbreviations
List of Tables, Charts and Exhibits
Table 1 – Mobile broadband monthly ARPU – 2010 - 2012
Table 2 – Estimated mobile broadband revenues and annual change – 2010 - 2012
Table 3 – Mobile market subscribers, penetration rate and annual change – 2010 - 2012
Table 4 – Total mobile services market revenue and annual change – 2010 - 2013
Table 5 – Overview of selected Amaysim versus Woolworths prepaid plans – July 2012
Table 6 – Revenue by business area – Jan 2011
Table 7 – Pivotel Globalstar satellite data costs – July 2012
Table 8 – Mobile market subscribers, penetration rate and annual change – 2000 - 2012
Table 9 – Mobile subscribers by carrier – 1993; 1997; 2000 - 2013
Table 10 – Annual change of mobile subscribers by carrier – 1995; 1997; 2000 - 2013
Table 11 – Mobile subscriber market share by operator – 1993; 1997; 2000 - 2013
Table 12 – 3G mobile subscribers by carrier – 2003 - 2012
Table 13 – Annual change of 3G mobile subscribers by carrier – 2007 - 2012
Table 14 – Proportion of 3G mobile subscribers versus total subscribers by carrier – 2006 - 2012
Table 15 – 2G mobile subscribers by carrier – 2006 - 2012
Table 16 – Annual change of 2G mobile subscribers by carrier – 2006 - 2012
Table 17 – Prepaid subscribers by mobile network operator – 2006 - 2013
Table 18 – Prepaid subscribers market share by mobile network operator – 2006 - 2013
Table 19 – Number of mobile phone services in operation - prepaid and postpaid – 2006 - 2013
Table 20 – Wholesale subscribers – Telstra and Optus – 2006 - 2013
Table 21 – Total mobile services market revenue and annual change – 1993 - 2014
Table 22 – Mobile services market revenue per major operator – 1993 - 2014
Table 23 – Annual change of mobile services market revenue per major operator – 1994; 1997; 2000 - 2014
Table 24 – Annual change of mobile services market share per major operator – 2000 - 2013
Table 25 – Estimated proportion of mobile service revenue from voice services – 2007 - 2013
Table 26 – Total mobile voice revenue per major operator – 2007 - 2013
Table 27 – Mobile voice revenue per major operator as a proportion of total mobile services revenue – 2007 - 2013
Table 28 – Mobile data revenue per major operator – 2007 - 2012
Table 29 – Annual change in data revenue per major operator as a proportion of total mobile services revenue – 2008 - 2012
Table 30 – Blended ARPU per month per major operator – 2000 - 2012
Table 31 – Blended ARPU per month per major operator – annual change – 2004 - 2012
Table 32 – Postpaid ARPU per month – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone – 2004 - 2010
Table 33 – Mobile data ARPU per month - Telstra and Hutchison – 2004 - 2010
Table 34 – Mobile base stations – 2009; 2011 - 2012
Table 35 – Crown Castle mobile tower acquisitions – 2000 - 2012
Table 36 – Estimated number of outlets and market share of leading retailers – 2011 - 2012
Table 37 – Selected retailers – number of outlets by state – mid-2012
Table 38 – Australian handset shipments – 2004 - 2012
Table 39 – Seasonal comparison – Australian shipments per quarter – 2004 - 2011
Table 40 – Seasonal comparison – Australian shipments per quarter as a proportion of annual shipments – 2004 - 2011
Table 41 – Change in Australian shipments per quarter – seasonally adjusted – 2005 - 2011
Table 42 – Key recycling indicators – Mobile Muster – 2006 - 2012
Table 43 – Estimated Australian handset supplier market share – major suppliers – 2008 - 2011
Table 44 –Australian 3G handset market – by major operator – 2008 - 2010
Table 45 – Low-end, mid-tier and high-end mobile device markets – percentage of units sold – 2007; 2013.
Table 46 – Payment plan data – 2009 - 2011
Table 47 – Sale percentage of paid-for applications – 2010 -2011
Table 48 – Typical weekly usage pattern of a smartphone user – 2009 - 2011
Table 49 – Customer loyalty with phone OS - % likely to stay with their existing operating system for next phone purchase
Table 50 - Use of advanced phone features - % of mobile users who access rich media and other smartphone features
Table 51 – Smartphone usage by children in Australia – 2009
Table 52 – Smartphone users accessing the internet – 2009 - 2011
Table 53 – Smartphone use of the internet – 2010 - 2011
Table 54 – Revenue by business area – Jan 2011
Table 55 – Pivotel Globalstar satellite data costs – July 2012
Table 56 – Estimate mobile satellite users – 2007 - 2012
Table 57 – Optus satellite revenue – 2007 - 2013
Chart 1 – Overview of mobile broadband revenues and annual change – 2010 - 2012
Chart 2 – Overview of mobile market subscribers, penetration rate and annual change – 2010 - 2012
Chart 3 – Overview of total mobile services market revenue and annual change – 2010 - 2013
Chart 4 – Overview of mobile market subscribers versus population – 2000 - 2012
Chart 5 – Overview of mobile subscribers by carrier – 2001 - 2013
Chart 6 – Overview of annual change of mobile subscribers by carrier – 2001 - 2013
Chart 7 – Overview of mobile subscriber market share by operator – 2001 - 2013
Chart 8 – Overview of 3G mobile subscribers by carrier – 2006 - 2012
Chart 9 – Overview of annual change of 3G mobile subscribers by carrier – 2007 - 2012
Chart 10 – Overview of proportion of 3G mobile subscribers versus total subscribers by carrier – 2009 - 2012
Chart 11 – Overview of 2G mobile subscribers by carrier – 2006 - 2012
Chart 12 – Overview of annual change of 2G mobile subscribers by carrier – 2007 - 2012
Chart 13 – Overview of prepaid subscribers by mobile network operator – 2006 - 2013
Chart 14 – Overview of market share of prepaid subscribers by mobile network operator – 2006 - 2013
Chart 15 – Overview of number of mobile phone services in operation - prepaid and postpaid – 2006 - 2012
Chart 16 – Overview of wholesale subscribers – Telstra versus Optus – 2006 - 2013
Chart 17 – Overview of total mobile services market revenue and annual change – 2002 - 2014
Chart 18 – Overview of mobile services market revenue per major operator – 2002 - 2014
Chart 19 – Overview of annual change of mobile services market revenue per major operator – 2002 - 2014
Chart 20 – Overview of mobile services revenue share per major operator – 2000 - 2013
Chart 21 – Overview of estimated proportion of mobile service revenue from voice and data – 2007 - 2013
Chart 22 – Overview of total mobile voice revenue per major operator – 2007 - 2013
Chart 23 – Overview of mobile voice revenue per major operator as a proportion of total mobile services revenue – 2007 - 2013
Chart 24 – Overview of total mobile data revenue per major operator – 2007 - 2012
Chart 25 – Overview of annual change in mobile data revenue per major operator – 2008 - 2012
Chart 26 – Overview of blended monthly ARPU per major operator – 2000 - 2012
Chart 27 – Overview of prepaid ARPU per month – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone – 2004 - 2010
Chart 28 – Overview of mobile data ARPU per month – Telstra and Hutchison – 2004 - 2010
Chart 29 – Overview of Australian handset shipments – 2004 - 2012
Chart 30 – Overview of tonnes of mobile equipment collected versus public awareness – 2006 - 2012
Chart 31 – Overview of estimated Australian handset supplier market share – major suppliers – 2008 - 2011
Chart 32 – Overview of trends in smartphone ownership – 2010 - 2011
Chart 33 – Overview of cyber bullying information study – 2011
Chart 34 – Overview of mobile satellite users – 2007 - 2012
Chart 35 – Overview of Optus satellite revenue – 2007 - 2013
Exhibit 1 – The initial analogue operators – brief historic background
Exhibit 2 – MVNO models
Exhibit 3 – MVNO opportunities
Exhibit 4 – Mobile carriers and selected MVNOs
Exhibit 5 – Examples of key MVNO customer segments
Exhibit 6 – Amaysim at a glance – 2012
Exhibit 7 – Mobile carriers and selected resellers and MVNEs
Exhibit 8 – An overview of Boost Tel
Exhibit 9 – Pivotel Communications Pty Limited at a glance – 2012
Exhibit 10 – Background information on the 3G race by the MNOs
Exhibit 11 – Digital dividend spectrum
Exhibit 12 – 700MHz reallocation – 2011 - 2014
Exhibit 13 – Proposed 2.5GHz reallocation – 2011 - 2016
Exhibit 14 – A brief overview of the CCA auction set for 2013
Exhibit 15 – Allocations for wireless access services (WAS) – 2009
Exhibit 16 – Mobile spectrum by operator in capital city and regional area – 2012
Exhibit 17 – GSM services by operator
Exhibit 18 – WCDMA services by operator
Exhibit 19 – Ownership of selected frequencies for 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz services – 2012
Exhibit 20 – Strathfield Group – a brief background look at its services
Exhibit 21 – Pivotel Communications Pty Limited at a glance – 2012

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