Australians Are Using 1000 Times More Data Than In 2006

Australians Are Using 1000 Times More Data Than In 2006

So this is why your 4G connection is feeling slower as time passes: Aussies love mobile broadband way too much. A new report from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) clarifies just how much: we’re using 1000 times more mobile data than we were in 2006.

Beach picture from Shutterstock

That usage rate is predicted to rise at 38 per cent each year through to 2017, when we’ll collectively be using 81.1 petabytes of data each month. We’re hotspot addicts and we need to admit it.

ACMA also calculates that the value of “saved time” from using mobile broadband was worth $26.5 billion to Australia’s economy of 2013, saving 2.3 per cent of employee time.

I am deeply suspicious of these kinds of figures, just as I am of figures which suggest that people faffing around online at work “cost” us millions of dollars. Both rely on the assumption that every second of the day has to be dedicated to workplace-enhancing productivity. In reality, sometimes we’re going to end up staring out the window for much longer than the time we saved by answering an email on the train — and that’s OK.


  • “people faffing around online at work” – I thought that was people relentlessly using social media to improve their employment recognition, as recruiters seem to advise. Maybe I’m missing something there as I watch an endless cycle of retweeting meta-statuses around a hollow core.

  • I wonder what the government is doing to make sure that they’ve got a good plan in place to accommodate for us using another 1000x data in 2020… I’m hoping that they have some kind of broadband network which will be fast enough to handle that kind of throughput.

  • Sensationalisation, that’s all this headline is. We have 100 times more touch based smartphones than we had 10 years ago. The article does not compare the technology and the requirements.

    As for the infrastructure of supply and demand, yes we have more demand than before. In the 90’s one could not think of having a computer in each household, leave alone holding one in your palm and carrying it in your bag or pocket. Similarly websites and webpages were nothing more than links and text searchable via a text based (terminal like utility called Lynx) over the BBS connections. The GUI based internet browsing was also not much to talk about. Images could not be downloaded on the 14.4 – 28.8 K dial up speeds. An always all connection was a dream and sharing MB’s or GB’s of data was unfathomable. Today, patches and updates that are in GB’s are delivered over the internet instead of floppies or CD’s. Yes the consumption of Data has been driven up and we do not have the infrastructure to support it. Where I am, Telstra cannot offer me more than ADSL1, other cannot even offer me an Internet Connection, while many talk about NBN.

    The consumption of data is also due to the kids watching a video repeatedly, streaming it over and over rather than downloading or caching it. Suppliers not offering traditional media updates anymore. Start up Windows after a week and there’s a GIG of updates to download. Start your T-Box, XBOX, PSN whatever, there are updates. Apple has the iOS updates and then when apps are fixed they are not that small little patch but the full app which could be 30-500 MB. So maybe we are not consuming so much data, but are being forced to do so by not having alternative options to not consume data.

    • “In the past 10 years, data usage patterns have changed. Therefore we can’t comment on the change in the pattern of data usage.”

      Sorry mate, but that is basically what you just said.

  • 2006: telstra hadn’t yet launched it’s nextG network, and almost all australian users were on 2G. The most popular phones being released were still candybar. Only high-end phones had cameras, and MMS’s were not very common (remember how you used to get a text telling you to go to a website so you could view the photo?). Web browsing was slow, awkward, very expensive, and borderline useless. Mobile data was for enthusiasts, now it is for the masses.

    2006 was 8 years ago. Compare internet use in 1996 (when you coud look up some slow-loading pictures but mostly stuck with text), to 2004 when I was torrenting movies and tv shows at a high rate. Comparing stats on quickly-developing technology will always get you dramatic figures like this.

  • This isn’t an article about the NBN, so I don’t understand why people are bringing it up. What should be brought up is the ridiculous pricing of mobile data. We’re using more data than ever before, and are still stuck with horrific pricing. Virgin Mobile in the UK offers a plan of unlimited calls, text and unlimited data, for less than $40 per month. For an extra $5, and if you bring your own phone, you can get unlimited text, limited calls ($550 worth) and 500mb of data from Telstra. I want to know why. Why are Australians getting such a shit deal? And why is nothing being done about it?

    • I wouldn’t have brought it up personally, but I understand why.

      The NBN is being based on *previous* data consumption levels.
      Data consumptions levels are rising. Prodigiously.
      So we should totally say ‘meeting yesterdays needs covers the future need’.

    • Horrible pricing comes from businesses knowing consumers are still using it. If its popular.. being used.. and being paid for.. why lower prices, consumers are showing they are fine with it with their wallets.

      Main reason NBN is being brought up is because Mobile Data consumption is higher due to our 4G mobile networks being faster then most of our wired infrastructure. Heck, I know friends who would rather pay for their own 4G Connection and Hotspot then stick with their cruddy Dial-Up / ADSL 1 connections that offer them so little.

      Mobile consumption is so high because near everyone owns a mobile, near every plan (post or pre) has a data inclusion, and people can use that faster, and more conveniently then there computer.

      So in the end, the businesses selling you this stuff aren’t overpricing it, they are pricing it in respect to how much people want/need it, which is a LOT.

    • From my understanding after having a training session with a network infrastructure team, the impression I got was that demand is exceeding supply. It seems as though when the old Analogue TV frequencies become available to the telco’s this should significantly improve.
      Data slams the networks and there is a fine line between them wanting you to use data (obviously making them $$) and you not using data (network load).

      As everyone would have noticed, almost all of the networks plans have made significant reductions in data allowance but maintaining unlim sms/mms and similar call value.

      Hopefully 2015-2016 will see big changes in mobile data.

  • I would argue that we are not addicted to wireless broadband… We rely on it because our hard-line network is outdated and awful. I actually have no Internet at home atm as our Telstra 4g modem didn’t work particularly well, we cannot get adsl from Telstra and 3g in our area is patchy…. Worst thing is that where I am is not even rural. What’s a guy to do?

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