Australians Get Mobile

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released new research highlighting the increasing tendency for Australians rely upon mobile rather than fixed telecommunications.

Usage Trends

The research, titled Australians get mobile, shows that 12 per cent of Australian adults now use mobile devices exclusively for both voice and internet.

Meanwhile 29 per cent of adults are exclusively mobile in their voice communications (meaning they have no fixed landline). Quite frankly, we’re surprised it’s this low, although it’s still over twice as many people as was the case four years ago.

While the Dog and Bone office is hardly representative of the population at large – for one thing there are far too many Collingwood supporters – way more than a third of us have ditched the landline.

Our experience shows that one of the main reasons for maintaining a landline is simple apathy. A lot of people just never get around to cancelling their landline, even in households that also pay for multiple mobile services each month. (If nothing else, it’s a good illustration of the power of ‘opt-out’ policies.) Naturally, some people really do need a landline, but I’d hazard that that figure is considerably less than the 79 per cent of adult Australians who have one.

It is also telling that 54 per cent of young adults (25-34) have ditched their landline. Older Australians are significantly more likely to hang onto it: the ACMA research shows that only three per cent of people over 65 have given up their landline.

The most surprising category, at least from a technical sense, is the 21 per cent of people who retain a landline, yet only have mobile internet. Again, I can’t imagine the landline sees much use, and just hangs around draining money. The other surprising aspect of this category is that young adults (25-34) aren’t significantly higher than the average (28%).

Internet Usage

The other category that stands out is the activity of those who use mobile-only internet compared to those who have a fixed line (which is typically far more cost-effective for higher-bandwidth). What is surprising at face value is how little difference there is.

Across a range of categories – banking, social media, research, general surfing, buying and selling – the numbers hardly differ. Then again, why would they? Most of those who have a fixed internet service in their home are presumably just as likely to have a smartphone, and probably aren’t like to differ much in their behaviour.

That being said, we would have expected greater differentiation in the ‘Entertainment’ category. If you watch a lot of content – either by downloading it or by streaming – you really need a fixed line connection. The cost with a mobile service is prohibitive.

Then again, it’s worth bearing in mind that this research examines figures from December 2014. Netflix launched in Australia in March 2015, and one suspects that this category (Entertainment) now looks rather different.