Technology Analysis

Australia's digital evolution soared in 2023

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Australia's dependence on the digital world is growing (Images: Picryl, freevector.com)

Australia's digital landscape has undergone significant transformations in 2023, as outlined in recent reports from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The key findings concentrate on three critical perspectives: the state of Australian telecom infrastructure; internet usage patterns; and the dynamic trends in digital communication.

ACMA's series of research reports culminating in 2023 unveiled the following insights into the state of Australia's telecom infrastructure.

In the realm of 5G networks and NBN connectivity, over 85% of the Australian population now enjoys coverage by 5G networks, and a significant 81% of Australian households have adopted a National Broadband Network (NBN) connection. Moreover, 98% of Australian adults possess internet access at home through fixed or fixed wireless networks, with 81% of households choosing the NBN as their preferred connection method.

Data consumption and network expansion have witnessed remarkable developments, with Australians downloading approximately 12.9 million terabytes of data in the three months to June 2023. Furthermore, 90% of NBN plans offer unlimited data and 5G networks have expanded to cover 85% of the population as of July that year. ACMA predicts that by 2027, 74% of mobile services will utilise 5G.

The mobile services landscape has also seen growth, with 39.6 million mobile services in operation by the end of 2022. Notably, 36% of these mobile services utilised 5G in 2023. The total volume of downloads using mobile devices surged by 31% in the three months to June.

The second focal point revolves around Australians' internet usage patterns, showcasing stability and near-universal access.

Nearly all Australian adults (99%) went online in the six months to June 2023, with 98% having internet access at home. Of these, 93% utilised fixed or wireless services other than 4G/5G and 81% preferred connecting through the NBN. The proliferation of smart devices, including smart TVs and wearables, continues to witness significant growth.

Australians remain heavily reliant on the internet for various activities, with 95% going online for news and information and 87% engaging in online shopping. Despite a slight decline, telehealth consultations retained a significant presence at 46%.

The third facet explores the evolving landscape of digital communication, highlighting shifts in mobile and app usage.

While mobile phone calls have long been the dominant mode of communication, text messages were rapidly gaining ground in 2023. Messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are witnessing increased popularity, with 78% of Australians now utilising apps for texting.

Digital platform use has seen widespread adoption, with 95% of Australian adults engaging with communication or social media platforms. YouTube and Facebook remain the top platforms, with WhatsApp and Instagram experiencing substantial gains. The role of digital platforms as sources of news is expanding, with 63% of adults accessing news through communication or social media platforms in the previous seven days to June 2023.

Australia's digital landscape in 2023 is marked by widespread internet access, advanced telecom infrastructure and dynamic shifts in communication preferences. As technology continues to shape the way Australians connect and communicate, the above-mentioned insights offer a comprehensive snapshot of the nation's digital evolution, reflecting the intricate interplay between infrastructure development, internet usage patterns and evolving communication trends.

Paul Budde is an Independent Australia columnist and managing director of Paul Budde Consulting, an independent telecommunications research and consultancy organisation. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulBudde.

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