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Australia - Mobile Communications - Market Trends and Surveys

For those needing high level strategic analysis, statistics and forecasts of Australia’s mobile market, this report identifies business opportunities, points out the hype and the pitfalls, and will be of assistance in making the right business decisions. It provides essential reading and gives in-depth information on:

  • Mobile statistics, revenues, ARPU, market shares and forecasting to 2011, split by operator;
  • 3G operators and network infrastructure overviews;
  • Mobile handset market including key players and statistics;
  • Mobile retail market;
  • Mobile satellite market;
  • Mobile spectrum developments.


BuddeComm’s Australia - Mobile Communications - Market Trends and Surveys annual publication provides information and insight into the mobile communications sector in Australia with a particular reference to mobile voice services.

  The report provides an overview of the major mobile operators in Australia, as well as analysis of trends and industry developments in 2009.  

Australia has three mobile network operators - Telstra, Optus and VHA. VHA was formed in mid-2009 following a merger between the third and fourth-largest mobile network operators in Australia, Vodafone Australia and Hutchison Australia, which provided services under the brand ‘3’.

  Voice is the dominant mobile service in Australia, but mobile data has become steadily more popular since 2007. Growth in use of mobile data services was extremely rapid in 2008 and 2009, and this trend is expected to continue in 2010. Browsing the mobile Internet from a handset is in its infancy in Australia relative to other advanced economies.  

All the major mobile providers have recently completed upgrades to their mobile networks based on HSPA technologies. High-speed mobile broadband coverage has also been expanded to many regional centres in Australia in 2009.  

Market penetration for mobile services in Australia is above 100% due to some individuals having more than one mobile subscription. In 2009 there were roughly 25 million mobile subscriptions in Australia for a population of around 22 million individuals. The country’s mobile industry will generate roughly $15.5 billion in revenue in 2009.

  • The mobile industry in Australia has changed significantly with the merger of the third and fourth-largest mobile network operators Vodafone and Hutchison Australia to form the company VHA. The merger will fundamentally alter the competitive landscape for the industry. If VHA is successful in the longer term the company may challenge both Optus and Telstra in an effort to become the largest mobile service provider in Australia, as Vodafone already is in New Zealand and many other important markets.
  • There is a small chance that Australia’s economy may enter a recession in 2010, or more likely growth will be fairly flat. This may translate into falling demand for certain telecommunications product and services. However, as consumers and businesses scrutinise discretionary spending some telephony products may become more popular. The migration of mobile subscribers to capped plans may accelerate, especially among the high spending consumer and business segments.
  • Growth in the overall number of services is also driven by net migration of people to Australia. The ABS estimates that net migration to Australia in 2009 and 2010 is roughly a little more than 200,000 people per year. Growth in the number of people using two mobile subscriptions is also driven by increasing business usage. Very few individuals need more than one mobile service but an increasing number of business people are being equipped with handsets. As a result, BuddeComm estimates that the overall market may increase by between 300,000 and 400,000 new business connections in 2010.
  • In the first half of 2009 Telstra and Optus outperformed Vodafone and Hutchison. However it is likely that this has been at significant cost in terms of acquisition charges. In the second half of 2009 and 2010, BuddeComm expects that Telstra and Optus will retreat in their all-out attempts to acquire customers, while VHA will market itself aggressively in a bid to increase its market share.
  • Total mobile services revenue earned by the major mobile operators in the financial year to 2009 surged surprisingly despite difficult broader economic conditions in Australia. The industry as a whole earned around $14.3 billion in revenue from mobile services, a growth rate of nearly 10% year-on-year. Revenue growth slowed sharply in the first half of 2008 perhaps even turning negative as consumers reduced discretionary spending in the early stages of the global financial crisis. Growth for the full financial year was around 3%. In 2010 the mobile industry as a whole is expected to earn more than $15 billion for the first time. Revenue growth is likely to be moderate at around 5% unless economic conditions become significantly worse, perhaps as a result of a second financial crisis.
  • The mobile retail market in 2009 continues to be dominated by vertically integrated retail chains which are directly affiliated with a single major mobile operator. In addition to the operator branded stores a large number of smaller retail chains and independent mobile retailers continue to compete. As economic conditions have worsened in 2009 consolidation among retailers has occurred and many retail operators have closed.
  • The handset market in Australia is dominated by Nokia, which commands a market share of around 40%, with a number of smaller vendors all maintaining market shares of between 10% and 15%. However, in 2009 these dominant vendors face increasing competition from smaller competitors such as HTC and Apple. Due to a difficult economic climate generally in Australia growth in handset sales in 2009 and 2010 is expected to be minimal, despite a short-term boost to sales from the government’s economic stimulus packages in early 2009.
  This annual report provides the reader with a through overview of the mobile communications market in Australia in 2009 and shares important analysis of the market in 2010 and beyond.

  Please note that while this publication does discuss mobile data to a degree, it is predominantly focussed on mobile voice services. Mobile data is focussed on in a separate annual publication: Australia - Mobile Broadband and Media, which is available from the BuddeComm website, see: Australia annual publications for further details.

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

1. Industry Overview
1.1 Overview
1.2 Network operators
1.2.1 Telstra
1.2.2 SingTel Optus
1.2.3 VHA (Vodafone Hutchison Australia)
1.2.4 Network technologies
1.3 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
1.3.1 Virgin Mobile (Now Optus)
1.3.2 Woolworths
1.3.3 Macquarie Telecom
1.3.4 GRLmobile
1.3.5 Lebara Mobile
1.4 Mobile resellers
1.4.1 Resellers on the Telstra network
1.4.2 Resellers on the Optus network
1.4.3 Resellers on the Vodafone network
1.5 Mobile Virtual Network Enablers (MVNEs)
1.5.1 ComTel Corporation (formerly CommodiTel Ltd)
1.5.2 M2 Telecommunications Group Ltd (M2)
2. Analysis - 2009-2010
2.1 Overview
2.2 Mobile operators
2.2.1 Vodafone and Hutchison Australia merger
2.2.2 Impact of the Australian economic climate on mobile communications
2.2.3 Interconnection rates key to mobile competition
2.3 Services
2.3.1 Mobile broadband
2.3.2 Mobile voice
2.3.3 Prepaid trends and developments
2.3.4 Mobile content
2.4 MVNOs
2.4.1 Prospects for Woolworths MVNO
2.4.2 Other developments in the MVNO market
3. 3G & 4G Infrastructure
3.1 Technology overview
3.1.1 3G
3.1.2 3.5G / HSPA
3.1.3 4G / LTE
3.1.4 Mobile sites infrastructure
3.2 Network operators
3.2.1 Telstra
3.2.2 Optus
3.2.3 VHA
3.2.4 Hutchison
3.2.5 Vodafone
3.3 Infrastructure analysis
3.3.1 Structural separation and open networks
3.3.2 Squeezed out of the content markets
3.3.3 Mobile data market
3.3.4 4G LTE and 3G HSPA at 42Mb/s
3.4 Spectrum
3.4.1 Overview
3.4.2 Spectrum regulations
3.4.3 Spectrum-based services
3.4.4 Spectrum ownership and licences
4. Subscriber Statistics
4.1 Statistical sources
4.2 Mobile subscriber statistics
4.2.1 Total subscribers and annual growth rates
4.2.2 Operator market shares and growth
4.2.3 2G and 3G subscribers
4.2.4 Prepaid and postpaid subscribers by operator
4.2.5 Wholesale market
5. Revenue Overview
5.1 Total mobile services revenue and forecasts
5.2 Operator statistics
5.2.1 Revenue per major operator
5.2.2 Revenue growth
5.2.3 Revenue share
5.2.4 Revenues by service
5.2.5 Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)
6. Market Trends & Surveys
6.1 Market surveys in Australia
6.2 Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
6.2.1 Convergence and communications
6.2.2 Mobile services usage
6.2.3 Farming sector usage of telecommunication services
6.2.4 Consumer attitudes towards mobile services
6.3 Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMA)
6.3.1 AIMIA survey on mobile phone ownership and usage
6.4 Commercial market research
6.4.1 SMB mobile spending is on the rise
6.4.2 Disappointing global demand remains for mobile applications
6.4.3 Customer satisfaction survey for mobile carriers - April 2008
6.4.4 Gartner survey on SMS and MMS usage and trends
7. Retail Market
7.1 Overview of the mobile retail market in 2009
7.1.1 Retail revenues
7.1.2 Consolidation
7.2 Major mobile retail companies
7.2.1 Vertically integrated operators
7.2.2 Independents retailing services exclusively for mobile operators
7.2.3 Independents retailing services for a variety of network operators
7.3 Analysis of the market in 2009 and 2010
7.3.1 The impact of the financial crisis on the retail market in Australia
7.3.2 Emerging retail models for independent operators
7.3.3 Retail margins likely to remain under pressure
8. Handset Market
8.1 Overview
8.1.1 Trends in mobile handset market
8.1.2 Service provider-driven market
8.1.3 Replacement market
8.1.4 Summary of activity in 2008
8.2 Handset statistics
8.2.1 Shipments
8.2.2 Handset costs
8.2.3 Handset supplier market shares
8.3 Analysis
8.3.1 Overview
8.3.2 Apple and Google - hijacking the mobile operators
8.3.3 Mobile vendors set to lose the proprietary battle
8.3.4 Mid-tier mobile phones to decline
8.3.5 Rise of smart phones
9. Mobile Satellite Services
9.1 Introduction
9.1.1 Services
9.2 Public subsidies and regulation
9.2.1 Mobile satellite service band plan
9.2.2 Mobile satellite phone subsidies
9.3 Major operators
9.3.1 Telstra
9.3.2 Optus
9.3.3 Pivotel Group
9.3.4 VIX QuikTrak
9.3.5 FedSat - Australia’s low earth orbit satellite
9.4 Usage and revenue estimates
9.4.1 Revenue
10. Glossary of Abbreviations
List of Tables and Exhibits
Table 1 - Estimated number of base stations by technology and operators - 2009
Table 2 - Mobile market subscribers, penetration rate and annual change - 1995 - 2010
Table 3 - Mobile subscribers by carrier - 1995 - 2010
Table 4 - Annual growth rate of mobile subscribers by carrier - 1995 - 2010
Table 5 - Mobile subscriber market share by operator - 1995 - 2010
Table 6 - 3G mobile subscribers by carrier - 2003 - 2010
Table 7 - Annual growth rate of 3G mobile subscribers by carrier - 2007 - 2010
Table 8 - Proportion of 3G mobile subscribers versus total subscribers by carrier - 2006 - 2010
Table 9 - 2G mobile subscribers by carrier - 2006 - 2010
Table 10 - Annual change of 2G mobile subscribers by carrier - 2007 - 2010
Table 11 - Prepaid subscribers per operator - 2006 - 2010
Table 12 - Prepaid subscribers - market share by operator - 2006 - 2010
Table 13 - Number of mobile phone services in operation - pre & postpaid - 2006 - 2010
Table 14 - Telstra and Optus wholesale subscribers - 2006 - 2009
Table 15 - Total mobile services market revenue and annual change - 1993 - 2012
Table 16 - Mobile services market revenue per major operator - 1993 - 2012
Table 17 - Annual growth of mobile services market per major operator - 1994 - 2012
Table 18 - Mobile services revenue share per major operator - 2000 - 2012
Table 19 - Proportion of mobile service revenue from voice & data - 2007 - 2010
Table 20 - Total mobile voice revenue per major operator - 2007 - 2010
Table 21 - Mobile voice revenue per major operator as a proportion of total mobile services revenue - 2007 - 2010
Table 22 - Total mobile data revenue per major operator - 2007 - 2010
Table 23 - Growth of mobile data revenue per major operator - 2008 - 2010
Table 24 - Total mobile messaging revenue per major operator - 2007 - 2010
Table 25 - Total mobile data (non messaging) revenue per major operator - 2007 - 2010
Table 26 - Growth in mobile data (non-messaging) revenue per major operator - 2008 - 2010
Table 27 - Blended APRU per month per major operator - 2000 - 2009
Table 28 - Annual change in blended APRU per month per major operator - 2004 - 2009
Table 29 - Telstra, Optus and Vodafone postpaid ARPU per month - 2004 - 2009
Table 30 - Telstra, Optus and Vodafone prepaid ARPU per month - 2004 - 2009
Table 31 - Telstra and Hutchison mobile data ARPU per month - - 2004 - 2009
Table 32 - Telstra: 2G versus 3G subscriber ARPU per month - 2006 - 2009
Table 33 - Fixed-line and mobile services subscribers and annual change - 2000 - 2008
Table 34 - Mobile phone usage by age group - 2008
Table 35 - Use of mobile phone functionality - 2008
Table 36 - Mobile only users by age group - 2008
Table 37 - Monthly spend of mobile users - 2008
Table 38 - SME business use of mobile phones - 2007 - 2008
Table 39 - Estimated number of mobile related complaints - 2003 - 2008
Table 40 - Mobile complaints by category - 2008
Table 41 - Residential consumer use of 3G mobile services - 2007 - 2008
Table 42 - Use of mobile services for farm versus non-farm respondents - 2006 - 2007
Table 43 - Usage of telecommunication services by device
Table 44 - Landline usage by type of call - 2007
Table 45 - Mobile phone usage by type of call - 2007
Table 46 - Estimated number of outlets and market share of leading retailers - 2009
Table 47 - Selected retailers: number of outlets by state - 2009
Table 48 - Australian handset shipments - 2004 - 2010
Table 49 - Seasonal comparison - Australian shipments per quarter - 2004 - 2009
Table 50 - Seasonal comparison - Australian shipments per quarter as a proportion of annual shipments - 2004 - 2009
Table 51 - Change in Australian shipments per quarter (seasonally adjusted) - 2005 - 2009
Table 52 - Average mobile phone cost - 1986; 1993; 1998 - 2000; 2006; 2008
Table 53 - Estimated Australian handset supplier market share - major suppliers - 2008 - 2009
Table 54 - Handset supplier market share - top 3 suppliers globally - 2007 - 2008
Table 55 - Handset suppliers’ market shares - 1999 - 2005; 2007
Table 56 - Low-end, mid-tier & high-end mobile device market - percentage of units sold - 2007; 2013
Table 57 - Estimate mobile satellite users - 2007 - 2011
Table 58 - Optus total satellite revenue - 2007 - 2011
Exhibit 1 - MVNO models
Exhibit 2 - MVNO opportunities
Exhibit 3 - Mobile carriers and selected MVNOs
Exhibit 4 - Mobile carriers and selected resellers and MVNEs
Exhibit 5 - Boost Tel
Exhibit 6 - Examples of key MVNO customer segments
Exhibit 7 - Allocations for wireless access services - 2009
Exhibit 8 - Mobile spectrum by operator in capital city and regional area
Exhibit 9 - GSM services by operator
Exhibit 10 - WCDMA services by operator
Exhibit 11 - Ownership of selected frequencies for WiMAX services

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