The internet service market and Australians in the online environment

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1 The internet service market and Australians in the online environment JULY 2011 communicating facilitating regulating

2 Canberra Purple Building Benjamin Offices Chan Street Belconnen ACT PO Box 78 Belconnen ACT 2616 T F Melbourne Level 44 Melbourne Central Tower 360 Elizabeth Street Melbourne VIC PO Box Law Courts Melbourne VIC 8010 T F TTY Sydney Level 5 The Bay Centre 65 Pirrama Road Sydney NSW PO Box Q500 Queen Victoria Building Sydney NSW 1230 T F Commonwealth of Australia 2011 This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission from the Commonwealth. Requests and enquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to the Manager, Editorial Services, Australian Communications and Media Authority, PO Box Law Courts, Melbourne Vic Published by the Australian Communications and Media Authority

3 The internet service market and Australians in the online environment JULY 2011

4 Contents Introduction 1 Summary 2 Internet service market 7 Overview 7 Internet subscribers by technology type 9 ADSL 10 Mobile wireless and mobile phone handset internet 11 Hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) networks 13 Satellite broadband 13 Dial-up services 14 ISP charging models 15 Expanded service offerings 15 Bundling 16 Enhanced interactive services 17 Internet connection speeds 19 Internet access devices 20 Profile of mobile phone handset internet users 23 Emerging internet access devices 24 Australians in the online environment 25 Location of internet use 25 Internet activities by age 26 Frequency of internet use 28 Online behaviours by frequency of internet use 32 Trends to watch in online behaviours 34 Online communications VoIP and instant messaging 34 Social networking 34 Shopping online 35 Online video/audio content 36 Volume of data downloaded 38 Appendix Research background and methodology 40 Data sources 40 Counts of internet subscribers versus counts of internet users 40 Data analysis 41 Sample size 41 Rounding 41 Previous ACMA research 41 acma iii

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6 Introduction The Australian Communication and Media Authority (the ACMA) is an evidence-based regulator. As such it has an interest in monitoring and understanding the developing digital economy and its impact on the industries that it regulates, as well as changing consumer behaviour in response to services innovation. The intent of the research and reporting is to facilitate: > regulation for the citizen in an IP-based media and communications environment, where usage of voice over internet protocol (VoIP), mobile communications and the internet continues to grow. This in turn provides challenges for safeguards, such as access to the emergency call service and online security > support for consumers in making informed purchasing decisions in an environment of ongoing network, device and service innovation > content regulation in an environment where content is increasingly available via multiple platforms including the internet, mobile and traditional broadcasting networks. This report examines the changing characteristics of the internet access market in Australia in particular; internet service provider service offerings and consumer participation in the digital economy as represented by increased use of the internet and related online services. It builds on previous research released by the ACMA, particularly the Communications report series, Report 1 Australia in the digital economy: The shift to the online environment and Australia in the digital economy: Consumer engagement in e-commerce, providing updates for key data and trends. Any comments on this report would be welcomed and can be sent to or mailed to: Manager, Communications Analysis Section Australian Communications and Media Authority PO Box Law Courts Melbourne Vic 8010 The internet service market in Australia is dynamic, characterised by continual innovation in internet service provider (ISP) service offerings, take-up of innovative consumer access devices and increased participation in the online environment. acma 1

7 Summary The internet service market in Australia is dynamic, characterised by continual innovation in internet service provider (ISP) offerings, take-up of innovative consumer access devices and increased consumer participation in the online environment. This report highlights major developments in this market. Consumers using multiple internet access technologies At December 2010, there were nearly 10.4 million active internet subscribers in Australia using fixed and mobile wireless (dongle, datacard, USB mode) services and 8.2 million internet subscribers using mobile phone handsets - across the household, business and government sectors. The availability of internet services over mobile networks continues to grow. Mobile wireless subscriber numbers increased by 49 per cent in the 12 months to December 2010, while mobile phone handset subscribers increased at a comparable, but slightly lower, rate (21 per cent over the six months to December 2010). However, growth in these services has not occurred at the expense of fixed-line access technologies, with ADSL subscriber numbers also increasing by seven per cent over the 12 month period. Fixed-line internet services continue to play a central role in driving the digital economy accounting for the majority (91 per cent) of data downloads in Australia1. During the December quarter of 2010, nearly 175,000 terabytes of data were downloaded via fixed-line services in Australia, compared to less than nine per cent of data downloads occurring via mobile wireless services and just two per cent via mobile phone handset services. Increased take-up of the internet and frequency of online participation More Australians are going online and becoming more intensive users of the internet. Nearly 15.1 million (83 per cent) persons aged 14 years and over went online during the December quarter of 2010, up from 14.2 million during the same period in At December 2010, 71 per cent of internet users went online at least once a day, compared to 67 per cent at December 2009 and 63 per cent at December Australians moving to higher speed internet plans On average, 18.8 gigabytes of data was downloaded per internet subscriber in Australia during the December quarter of 2010, roughly equivalent to 120 hours of streaming video content on YouTube. This compared to 14.6 gigabytes downloaded during the December quarter of This is in part a reflection of increasing activity relating to downloading or streaming video content. During December 2010, 5.5 million persons accessed video streaming sites such as YouTube and Google Video from home, compared to 5.1 million during March To support increasing content downloads and online activities Australian are shifting to higher speed internet services; 46 per cent of internet subscribers in the households sector now subscribe to internet services with an advertised maximum download speed of 8Mbps or more, compared to 30 per cent at December Mobile phone handset internet developing as a complementary service While most Australians who accessed the internet did so via a computer (96 per cent during December 2010), increasing numbers of consumers are doing so via their mobile phone handsets. Approximately 3.1 million Australians aged 14 years and over accessed the internet via their mobile phone handset during December 2010, 1 89 per cent when factoring in downloads via mobile phone handsets. 2 acma

8 compared to 1.9 million during December However, mobile handset internet is developing as a complement to the traditional computer, with 98 per cent of these internet users also using the internet via a computer. This is also reflected in the lower levels of handset internet users undertaking activities like e-commerce online via their mobile phones, compared to online activities undertaken via their computers. Consumers appear to be utilising each access device according to a specific need and lifestyle requirement. The internet challenging traditional business models Australians continue to value the internet as an important communication channel but the manner in which internet users communicate online is changing, with increased use of alternative online communications channels such as internet telephony (voice over internet protocol VoIP) and social networking. The use of these services appears to be affecting traditional online communications via . During December 2010, 2.3 million Australians aged 14 years and over went online to make a VoIP call via their computer, 2.3 million used instant messaging and 5.4 million undertook activities relating to blogging and online communities. The number of persons who used such media as a substitute to traditional usage almost doubled in the twelve months to December 2010 (1.4 million persons, compared to 736,000 persons during December 2009). Australians are also increasingly using the internet to transact online and use the internet to source and compare services across businesses. For example, approximately 7.4 million Australians accessed retail and auction web sites from home during December 2010, compared to 6.8 million during March 2010 and 2.2 million persons purchased a good or service directly via the internet during December 2010, compared to nearly 2 million during December The increasing importance of e-commerce is further reflected in latest ABS figures which show that just under $143 billion worth of internet orders were received by Australian businesses in the 12 months to June 2010, an increase of 15 per cent since June Convergence is also enabling the exploitation of a wider range of consumer electronic devices to access the internet in addition to the mobile phone handset, with more recent developments centred on the entry of internet-enabled TV sets into the Australian market place. These developments are generating significant consumer interest in accessing a wider range of interactive services via the TV. For example, at December 2010, 3.4 million and 2.5 million persons respectively were estimated to be interested in accessing the internet and making a video call via their TV. This report is part of an ongoing research commitment by the ACMA to identify key trends in the Australian communications market and its impacts on consumers as they embrace the digital economy. On the evidence available, Australians are moving increasingly to adopt and use multiple technologies to access the internet as a core part of their daily lives. acma 3

9 Table 1 Key indicators internet subscribers 2 by sector, technology type and maximum advertised download speed Indicator Dec 09 Dec 10 % change Total number of internet subscribers ( 000) 8,951 10, Internet subscribers by sector Household subscribers ( 000) 7,340 8, Business and government subscribers ( 000) 1,611 2, Internet subscribers by technology ADSL 3 subscribers ( 000) 4,178 4,458 7 Mobile wireless broadband subscribers dongles, datacard, USB modem subscribers ( 000) 2,838 4, Dial-up subscribers ( 000) Other subscribers (cable, fibre, ISDN, satellite, etc) 4 1,044 1,051 1 ( 000) Mobile phone handset internet subscribers ( 000) 6,781 (June 2010) Distribution of household internet subscribers by advertised maximum download speeds 8, Less than 8Mbps ( 000) 5,138 4, Mbps or greater ( 000) 2,202 3, Note: Subscriber counts are for ISPs with 1,000 or more subscribers. Subscriber counts for cable services not separately provided by the ABS due to confidentiality reasons. Data for mobile phone handset internet subscribers not collected by ABS before June Sources: ABS, Internet Activity Survey. 2 A subscriber differs from a user or person/business as one user may have multiple accounts with a single ISP, or accounts with more than one ISP. Conversely, there are single ISP subscriber accounts that provide internet access for multiple persons/organisations (e.g. universities). Numbers exclude mobile phone handset subscribers. 3 Includes all copper-based access technologies relating to DSL, ADSL and ADSL2+. 4 ABS does not produce separate estimates for cable subscribers due to confidentiality reasons. 5 Calculated percentage change relates to six months of data. 4 acma

10 Table 2 Key indicators volume of data downloaded by internet subscribers in Australia Dec quarter 09 Dec quarter 10 % change Total downloaded (excludes mobile phone handsets) (terabytes) 127, , Fixed-line networks inc. dial-up 113, , Mobile wireless broadband 14,251 16, Mobile phone handset 717 4,029 (June 2010) Note: Relates to ISPs with 1,000 or more subscribers. Data for mobile phone handset internet subscribers not collected by ABS before June Sources: Sources: ABS, Internet Activity Survey. Table 3 Key indicators household consumer take-up and use of the internet Indicator Dec 09 Dec 10 % change Internet users 14 years+ (million) Persons 14 years+ with selected internet services in the home ADSL 8 (million) Mobile wireless broadband (dongles, datacards, USB modems) (million) n/a 3.7 n/a Mobile phone handset internet users 14 years+ (million) Internet users 14 years+ going online via selected consumer access devices Computer (desktop and portable) (million) Both mobile phone handset and computer (million) Mobile phone handset only (million) Internet users 14 years+ going online at least once a day (million) Internet users 14 years+ using VoIP via their computer, instant messaging or social networking to communicate instead of (million) Internet users 14 years+ making a online purchase (million) Internet users 14 years+ streaming video/tv (million) Internet users 2 years+ accessing selected March 10 Dec 10 % change 9 categories of website from home Retail shopping/auction websites (million) Social networking websites (million) Internet video distribution sites (million) n/a: not available. Sources: Roy Morgan Research for estimates about internet users aged 14 years and over. Nielsen Online for website traffic statistics for population aged 2 years and over. 6 Calculated percentage change relates to six months of data. 7 Internet use from any location during the December quarters of 2009 and Includes all copper-based access technologies relating to DSL, ADSL and ADSL2+. 9 Calculated percentage change relates to nine months of data. 10 Refers to websites classified as mass merchandiser by Nielsen Online. 11 Refers to selected online video distribution sites (Table 9). acma 5

11 Table 4 Key indicators select online activities undertaken by access device during December 2010 Indicator Mobile phone Computer (desktop handset (%) and portable, %) Research and information activities Communication activities ( /voip/ instant messaging) Banking and finance Entertainment and amusement activities Buying, selling, shopping Note: Relates to internet users aged 14 years+. Source: Roy Morgan Single Source. 6 acma

12 Internet service market Overview At December 2010, there were 10.4 million active internet subscribers in Australia, across the government, business and household sectors. 12 This represents nearly a 10 per cent increase on the June 2010 figure of 9.5 million subscribers and a 17 per cent increase on the December 2009 figure of 9 million. 13 In addition, the ABS reports that there were 8.2 million mobile phone handset internet subscribers in Australia at December 2010, a 21 per cent increase on the 6.8 million subscribers recorded at June Household internet subscribers accounted for 78 per cent of the total number of internet subscribers in Australia at December 2010, a two percentage point decline since June The remaining 22 per cent of subscribers were accounted for by the business and government sectors (Figure 1). Figure 1 Distribution of internet subscribers by household, business and government sectors Business and government subscribers Household subscribers % of total number of internet subscribers Jun 2009 Dec 2009 Jun 2010 Dec 2010 Quarter ending Note: Figures are for ISPs with more than 1,000 subscribers. Excludes mobile handset internet subscribers. Source: ABS, Internet Activity, Australia, December The shift away from dial-up internet access has continued, with broadband connections (offering advertised maximum download speeds of 256kbs or greater) 12 A subscriber differs from a user or person/business as one user may have multiple accounts with a single ISP, or accounts with more than one ISP. Conversely, there are single ISP subscriber accounts that provide internet access for multiple persons/organisations (e.g. universities). Numbers exclude mobile phone handset subscribers. 13 ABS, Internet Activity, Australia, December ABS did not collect statistics on the number of mobile phone handset subscribers prior to June Includes payment plans that provide internet access whether or not used. 15 Excludes mobile phone handset subscribers as ABS does not collect subscriber counts for business, government and household sectors separately. acma 7

13 making up 93 per cent of the total number of internet subscribers in Australia at December 2010, compared to 92 per cent at June 2010 and 90 per cent at December At December 2010, approximately 94 per cent of household subscribers were classified by the ABS as broadband subscribers compared to 92 per cent for business and government subscribers. 16 The ISP sector in Australia has been identified as the fastest growing sector in the telecommunications industry. IBISWorld reports a 3.9 per cent per annum growth in industry revenue for this sector for the five years to largely driven by increased adoption of higher speed broadband services. 17 The ABS reports that at the end of December 2010, there were 104 ISPs operating in the Australian market with 1,000 or more subscribers, which shows a marginal decline from the 107 recorded at June The decrease could be a reflection of a number of prominent mergers and takeovers occurring in the Australian market, such as iinet s takeover of AAPT s residential services, and a general trend to industry consolidation in an attempt to take advantage of economies of scale. 18 There were 12 ISPs operating in the Australian internet service market with more than 100,000 subscribers. The market is dominated by four ISPs: Telstra (BigPond), Optus, TPG and iinet. Table 5 provides a snapshot of the number of internet services in operation for each of these ISPs. Table 5 Services in operation (SIO) for key internet service providers in Australia ISP Internet SIO, 31 December 2010 Telstra (BigPond) million fixed internet subscribers including: > million retail broadband services > 919,000 wholesale broadband services > 238,000 dial-up services million ISDN access (basic access line equivalents) million mobile wireless broadband services (datacards) million fixed internet subscribers including: Optus 20 > 946,000 HFC, ULL 21 and business-grade broadband 1.19 million mobile wireless broadband subscribers* iinet ,000 broadband subscribers TPG ,000 broadband subscribers *Wireless broadband subscribers are defined as those provisioned with a High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) broadband service. Excludes data packs attached to voice services. Includes acquisition of AAPT s Consumer Division in September TPG Figures are at January 2011 and include on-net bundle, on-net and off-net services. Note: Table excludes 3G mobile phone handset services. HFC refers to hybrid fibre coaxial cable. 16 ABS, Internet Activity, Australia, December IBISWorld, IBISWorld Industry Report J7124: Internet Service Providers in Australia, February ACMA report, Communications report series, Report 4 Changing business models in the Australian communications and media sectors: Challenges and response strategies, January Telstra, Telstra Corporation Limited Financial Results for the Half Year ended 31 December 2010, 10 February SingTel, Management discussion and analysis of financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. For the third quarter and nine months ended 31 December The+SingTel+Group, 10 February ULL refers to unconditioned local loop. This involves use of unconditioned communications over copper wire pairs between boundaries of a telecommunications network at a customer s premises and a point of connection with a service provider usually other than the owner of the unconditioned network. 22 iinet, iinet delivers another strong set of results, 21 February TPG Telecom,1, 2011 Half-year results presentation, accessed 22 March acma

14 Internet subscribers by technology type Growth in internet subscribers in Australia continues to be dominated by mobile wireless broadband (dongle, datacard and USB modem based services), which increased by 49 per cent in the 12 months to December However, the increase in mobile wireless broadband subscriber numbers has not been at the expense of mainstream fixed-line services with ADSL subscribers (covering all copper based access technologies relating to DSL, ADSL and ADSL2+) increasing by approximately seven per cent during the same period. Mobile wireless broadband has continued to gain in popularity such that subscriber numbers are now marginally below ADSL subscriber numbers (see Figure 2). At the end of December 2010, ADSL accounted for 43 per cent of all internet subscribers in Australia marginally down from 44 per cent at the end of June In comparison, mobile wireless broadband subscribers accounted for 40 per cent of all internet subscribers, up from 36 per cent at the end of June Figure 2 Non-dial-up internet subscribers, ADSL versus mobile wireless broadband ADSL Mobile wireless* 5,000 4,171 4,178 4,212 4,458 4,230 4,000 3,453 Number of subscribers ('000) 3,000 2,000 1,000 2,838 2,024 0 Jun 2009 Dec 2010 Jun 2010 Dec 2010 Quarter ending *Mobile wireless broadband includes services provided via dongles, datacards and USB modems. Excludes mobile handset internet. Relates to ISPs with 1,000 or more subscribers. Includes household, business and government sectors. Source: ABS, Internet Activity, Australia, December Australian household consumers have access to a range of relatively high-speed internet services in the home. Of these services, ADSL, mobile wireless broadband and mobile phone handset internet are the most frequently reported internet access technologies available in the home (see Figure 3). Approximately 14 per cent of the total population aged 14 years and over (2.6 million persons) did not have access to the internet at home nor use it via a mobile phone handset. Key characteristics of this group included: > 53 per cent were aged 55 years or more > 62 per cent had personal annual incomes of less than $25,000. Consumers in non-capital city areas were more likely to not have internet access at home or use the internet via a mobile phone handset. During December 2010, 18 per acma 9

15 cent of the population aged 14 years and over in non capital city areas did not have access to the internet at home or use the internet via a mobile phone compared to 12 per cent for capital cities. However it should be noted that 31 per cent of these persons made use of the internet outside their home at locations such as work, an education institution, a public library or a friends house; a factor also likely to contribute to their decision not to have a home internet connection. 24 Data for June 2010 identified the main reasons quoted for consumers deciding not to connect to the internet at home. Approximately 50 per cent of persons without some form of internet access in their home at June 2010 reported that the internet was not relevant to their lifestyle and 42 per cent cited that the cost of connecting to the internet at home was too expensive. 25 Figure 3 Internet access available in Australian households, December 2010 ADSL 35 Mobile wireless broadband* 20 Access internet via mobile phone handset 17 Cable 12 Dial-up internet 6 ISDN 2 Satellite 1 No internet access at home and do not use internet via mobile phone handset % of total population aged 14 years+ Note: Multiple responses allowed. *Includes services provided via dongles, datacards and USB modems. Excludes internet use via mobile phone handset. Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, December ADSL ADSL broadband (covering all copper-based access technologies relating to DSL, ADSL and ADSL2+) is the most common internet connection platform used by Australian internet subscribers, accounting for 4.46 million (business, government and households) at December At this time, approximately 35 per cent of household consumers aged 14 years and over (6.4 million persons) had access to an ADSL service in their home (see Figure 3). 24 Roy Morgan Single Source, December Roy Morgan Single Source, June ABS, Internet Activity, Australia, December acma

16 Adoption of ADSL services has been facilitated by a number of ISPs rolling out their own digital subscriber line access multiplexers (DSLAMS) into Telstra exchanges. This has enabled these ISPs to provide internet services using unconditioned local loop lines. 27 Nearly all these lines (97 per cent at June 2010) were located in exchanges in central business districts and major metropolitan areas. 28 However, Telstra continues to provide the infrastructure upon which much of Australia s internet access is made available. At December 2010, approximately 67 per cent of ADSL services in operation in Australia were provided through Telstra s wholesale and retail services. 29 Competition among ADSL providers is intense, according to Market Clarity, approximately 85 per cent of ISPs offered ADSL broadband services in July Approximately 39 per cent of ISPs offering ADSL services also offered higher bandwidth ADSL2+ services, predominantly in areas of high population density. 30 Naked DSL, which provides a fixed-line broadband internet service without connection to an analogue telephony service, has been available in Australia since 2007 and is currently offered by many ISPs, some of which bundle the service with free or low cost VoIP calls. Availability of naked DSL is restricted to those areas that are serviced by an ADSL2+ exchange and is therefore more likely to be adopted by consumers living in metropolitan areas. Mobile wireless and mobile phone handset internet Through 3G mobile phone networks, Australians are able to access internet services either via a mobile wireless broadband service using a dongle, datacard or USB modem connected to a computer or via an internet-enabled mobile phone handset. The combined coverage of 3G networks was reported to be in excess of 99 per cent of the Australian population at June At December 2010, there were 4.2 million mobile wireless broadband subscribers and 8.2 million mobile phone handset internet subscribers (mobile phone payment plans which provide internet access whether or not used) in Australia across the business, government and household sectors. 32 The increasing penetration of mobile wireless and mobile phone handset internet services among Australian household consumers internet access choices is further reflected in consumer survey data. At December 2010, 20 per cent of persons aged 14 years and over (3.7 million persons) were estimated to use a mobile wireless broadband service via a dongle, datacard or USB modem at home. In addition, 3.1 million persons aged 14 years and over used the internet directly via their mobile phone handset during December 2010 compared to 1.9 million during December The majority of mobile wireless broadband users (dongle, datacard or USB modem services) did not utilise other internet access technologies in the home while 22 per cent accessed the internet via their mobile phone handset; three per cent had an 27 This involves using unconditioned communications over copper wire pairs between boundaries of a telecommunications network at a customer s premises and a point of connection with a service provider usually other than the owner of the unconditioned network. 28 ACMA, Communications report, , December ACCC, Snapshot of Telstra s customer access network as at 30 December 2010, accessed 11 April Market Clarity Database, July ACMA, Communications report , December ABS, Internet Activity, Australia, December Roy Morgan Single Source, December acma 11

17 ADSL service in the home and one per cent a cable service. For persons with access to a mobile wireless broadband service in the home: > 59 per cent resided in capital cities > 50 per cent were aged years > 65 per cent made use of internet access at sites outside of the home. 34 In comparison, nearly 90 per cent of users of the internet via a mobile phone handset had other internet access technologies in their home; 42 per cent an ADSL service, 27 per cent a mobile wireless service (dongle, datacard or USB modem) and 14 per cent a cable service. The high level of crossover between mobile phone internet use and use of other internet access services could be attributed to a number of factors. These include perceived functionality of mobile handsets relative to computers (screen and key board size for example) and the higher costs associated with accessing the internet via mobile phone handsets in comparison to other services. 35 Approximately 11 per cent of mobile phone handset internet users did not have access to other internet technologies in their home. Key characteristics of these persons included: > 66 per cent resided in capital cities > 57 per cent were female > 70 per cent were aged years. 36 Price reductions, increases in maximum data speeds and the expansion of available bandwidth may have contributed to a rise in the number of mobile wireless connections in the past year. 37 However, according to research by Market Clarity, mobile internet access (covering dongle, datacard, USB modem and mobile phone handset services) continues to be more expensive than fixed-line internet services with large variations in prices for services between: > internet service providers > prepaid and post-paid payment plans. 38 High demand for mobile broadband services has also encouraged the industry to harness new technologies, such as long-term evolution (LTE), and to develop an advanced and competitive wireless infrastructure. 39 In February 2011, Telstra announced that it would upgrade its 3G network with LTE technology in the central business districts of Australia s capital cities and selected regional centres. 40 Future network expansions are expected, with both Optus and Telstra announcing plans to enhance wireless broadband capacity in regional and rural Australia through the acquisition of additional licences on the 2.1GHz band. 41 For further information on 34 Roy Morgan Single Source, December For example, 3G services such as mobile phone handset internet often attract higher charges when used via a prepaid plan. See ACMA, Communications report series, Report 2 Take-up and use of voice services by Australian consumers, November Roy Morgan Single Source, December ACMA, Communications report , December Market Clarity, The Cost of Mobility: Comparing the Value of Fixed and Mobile Broadband, May Long-term evolution (LTE) is a wireless broadband technology widely promoted as the successor to 3G. It potentially provides much faster data rates for both uploading and downloading, transmitting data at theoretical peak speeds of 340Mbit/s; Ovum, Straight talk: LTE Focus, Telecoms Q Telstra, Telstra to launch 4G mobile broadband network by end 2011, 15 February Optus, Optus to acquire new 2100 MHz spectrum licences to increase 3G mobile capacity in regional Australia, 14 July 2010, new+2100mhz+spectrum+licences+to+increase+3g+mobile+capacity+in+regional+australia, accessed 12 acma

18 emerging wireless technologies, see the ACMA s 2010 report Technology developments in the digital economy. 42 Hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) networks HFC, or cable internet, services are operated in Australia by Optus, Telstra and Neighbourhood Cable, providing bandwidth typically of up to 30 Mbps. Together, Telstra and Optus s HFC networks pass over 2.7 million homes in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Perth. 43 Neighbourhood Cable, a subsidiary of Canberra-based TransACT Communications, operates in regional Victoria, reaching over 90,000 households in Mildura, Ballarat and Geelong. 44 New HFC technologies such as DOCSIS 3.0 offer much higher speeds, reaching up to 100 Mbit/s, and are currently available in selected parts of Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney through the Telstra and Optus networks. 45 Neighbourhood Cable also offers DOCSIS in selected areas of rural Victoria, including Ballarat, Geelong and Mildura. 46 According to the ABS, there were 909,000 cable and fibre subscribers in Australia at December 2009 covering the business, government and household sectors (figures for December 2010 not reported separately by ABS for confidentiality reasons). 47 Consumer survey data shows that approximately 12 per cent of the Australian population aged 14 years and over (2.1 million persons) had access to a cable internet service in the home at December 2010 (see Figure 3). Satellite broadband Satellite broadband is an internet service connected via satellite. It is available across Australia s entire land area but due to its higher cost to consumers and problems with latency and speed is chiefly used in areas with poor or no coverage from other service delivery platforms. 48 At June 2010, satellite internet services were provided by 35 ISPs 49 and accounted for less than two per cent of internet subscribers in Australia. 50 On 1 July 2011, the National Broadband Network (NBN) interim satellite service to rural and remote areas became available. The service from Optus and IPStar is expected to offer peak speeds of 6 Mbps downlink and 1 Mbps uplink. 51 At December 2010, approximately 163,000 household consumers aged 14 years and over had a satellite internet service at home. 52 ABS reports that at June 2010, there 27 October 2010; Telstra, Telstra to boost wireless broadband capacity in regional Australia, 25 October ACMA, Technology developments in the digital economy, August ACMA, Communications report , December accessed 17 June Telstra, accessed 10 June 2010; Optus, broadband+to+deliver+supersonic+speeds+in+brisbane,+melbourne+and+sydney, accessed 27 October Neighbourhood Cable, Neighbourhood Cable to upgrade its network to DOCSIS 3.0, accessed 27 May ABS, Internet Activity, Australia, December For example, one ISP charges four times more for the same amount of data delivered via satellite than via the wireless network. 49 Market Clarity Database, July ABS, Internet Activity, Australia, June accessed 1 July Roy Morgan Single Source, December acma 13

19 were 111,000 satellite internet subscribers across the household, business and government sectors. 53 Dial-up services Dial-up services connect the subscriber to the internet via a dial-up modem and software using the public switched telephone network. The ABS reported that at December 2010, there were 707,000 dial-up internet subscribers in Australia across the business, government and household sectors. At December 2010, an estimated 1.2 million persons in Australia aged 14 years and over (6 per cent of the population) had a dial-up internet service in their home. > 54 per cent of these persons resided in capital cities > 52 per cent were aged 50 years or older, while > 47 per cent used the internet from locations outside the home. 54 Nearly 980,000 Australians aged 14 years and over only had access to a dial-up internet service in the home and did not use internet via a mobile phone handset. In terms of regional variations, 7 per cent of persons aged 14 years and over residing in non-capital city areas only had a dial-up internet service in the home and did not use the internet via a mobile handset compared to 5 per cent for capital cities. 55 In addition to dial-up, approximately 418,000 persons in Australia aged 14 years and over were estimated to have access to an internet service via the integrated services digital network (ISDN), 2 per cent of the population ABS did not publish satellite internet subscriber numbers separately for December Roy Morgan Single Source, December ibid. 56 Roy Morgan Single Source, January December acma

20 ISP charging models Within the competitive Australian internet service environment, ISPs typically make household broadband available to consumers under a variety of plans, with data allowances changed according to connection type; data speed; price level; and whether the plan is prepaid, post-paid or bundled with other services. Australian ISPs usual charging models are outlined in Table 6. Table 6 Typical Australian ISP charging models Charging model Post-paid cap, fixed contract Post-paid cap, no fixed contract Prepaid Pay-as-you-go Bundled plans Description of plan Service is offered under a fixed-term contract (from one month to 36 months in length) for a set price each month, which includes a monthly data allowance that may be divided into peak and off-peak times (determined by the ISP). Once the monthly data allowance is reached or exceeded, data speeds may be slowed ( shaped ) and/or an excess usage fee charged. Usage of data above the nominated amount per billing period may be charged at an alternative rate. As above, without a fixed-term contract. Costs per megabit are typically higher than those charged under a contract. Service is offered for a set period (between one month and one year) with a set data allowance. Data access typically stops once the data allowance is reached or the specified set period has lapsed, unless the account is recharged. Prepaid internet is most commonly offered for mobile/wireless broadband services. Service is charged on a per megabit basis, typically at a considerably higher rate than other plans and as an add-on to another service, such as a mobile phone plan. Available with or without a contract. Service is provided on a post-paid plan, bundled with another service or services for an overall lower cost than if the services were purchased separately. The bundled services (internet, fixed-line telephone, mobile phone and subscription television) are most commonly provided by one company or partner companies. These plans are usually established on a fixed-term contract for the bundled services. ACMA consumer survey data shows that financial considerations appear to be the strongest driver in consumer selection of an internet service provider (ISP) for a home internet service, with 45 per cent of survey respondents citing price as the reason for their ISP choice. Service speed (25 per cent) and download limits (16 per cent) were also commonly cited, while package deals such as bundling were mentioned by 13 per cent of respondents. 57 Expanded service offerings In addition to continued innovation in pricing of internet access services, ISPs have sought to retain market share through service innovation, especially the bundling of voice and content services to customers (Figure 4). The majority of ISPs have moved beyond the traditional single service provider model, diversifying their product offerings to provide additional services in conjunction with internet access. Most commonly, ISPs offer internet access as only one component of a multi-part package or bundle 58, which may offer incentives such as free or discounted voice services, or free line rental. 59 Internet security services, subscription television packages, VoIP and mobile phones are among other products offered by ISPs, either individually (such as a web- 57 ACMA-unpublished data, November The practice of joining related products together for the purpose of selling them as a single product. Bundling arrangements usually feature special pricing arrangements that make it cheaper for consumers to buy products and services as a bundle rather than individually. 59 For example, at 11 April 2011, an ISP was offering a broadband service with free or $1.00 line rental. acma 15

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