Australian mobile telecommunications industry: economic significance and state of the industry

Economics Information technology Telecommunications Australia

The mobile telecommunications industry contributes substantially to the Australian economy. In addition to its direct contributions, it drives productivity gains throughout the economy according to this 2008 Access Economics report. Access Economics was commissioned by The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) to conduct an analysis of the economic contribution and significance of the mobile telecommunications industry in Australia.

The last decade has seen continued growth in the use of mobile phones. The total number of mobile phone subscribers reached 21.1 million at the end of FY 2006-07, which implies a penetration rate of over 100 per cent. Therefore, the number of mobile phones in service in Australia was greater than the population at 30 June 2007. This is an increase from 14.3 million subscribers in 2003, and a doubling of subscriber numbers in 2000.

Industry surveys point to increasing substitution away from fixed line voice services to mobile phone services. This increase in market penetration has been coupled with technological developments in the functionality of mobile phones, including most recently a trend towards data applications, such as email, that were traditionally the domain of personal computers.

Associated with these developments, is the increasing importance of the mobile telecommunications industry in Australia in both the size of the industry itself, and its indirect footprint on the Australian economy. The latter occurs in terms of streamlining business processes, reducing costs and increasing the productivity of workers, no longer constrained to the fixed environment to undertake regular business functions.

Key challenges faced by the industry include the regulatory settings and their ability to keep pace with rapidly emerging technologies.

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