Converging communications channels: Preferences and behaviours of Australian communications users

8 Dec 2011

Australians continue to embrace multiple communication technologies, with the mobile phone, the rise of the smartphone and internet-based communications complementing traditional fixed-line telephony.

According to the report in the six months to April 2011, 84 percent of adults in fixed-line telephone households used three or more communication technologies compared to 82 per cent at April 2010.

Most (57 per cent) adult consumers used three communication technologies (a fixed-line telephone, a mobile phone and the internet), while a further 27 per cent also used Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for voice calls.

‘While the fixed-line telephone continues to be used by the majority of Australians, increasing numbers are choosing to do without a fixed-line phone relying instead on their mobile phone for the bulk of their voice communications,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

At June 2011, 19 per cent of adults did not have a home fixed-line telephone, up from 16 per cent at June 2010 and, not surprisingly, this group is leading the way for the adoption of smartphones (e.g. iPhone and Blackberry phones).

‘Smartphones are playing a major role in enabling converged communications, with users more likely to use online communication services such as email, social networking and VoIP via their handsets than other mobile phone users,’ said Mr Chapman.

At April 2011, 89 per cent of adult consumers in fixed-line telephone households used a mobile phone. Smartphones users accounted for 37 per cent of mobile phone users overall, with half of those who have a mobile phone and no fixed-line telephone service in their home using smartphones.

‘Increasing functionality of smartphones and handset innovations (bigger screens and easy-to-use interface etc), are driving adoption, with smartphone users being the most active users of online services via mobiles in Australia’.

In the six months to April 2011:

  • 74 per cent of smartphone users accessed email via their handsets, compared to 46 per cent of other mobile phone users
  • 74 per cent accessed social networking sites, compared to 49 per cent for other mobile users, while
  • 72 per cent downloaded applications, compared to 42 per cent for other mobile phone users.

Approximately 60 per cent of adult internet users in Australia were estimated to have undertaken social networking activities online in the six months to April 2011, while 34 per cent of adults used a VoIP service—typically via their computer, a rise of two percentage points since April 2010.

Email services were the dominant cloud computing service used by Australians. In the six months to April 2011, 68 per cent of Australian adults online used email services such as Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo!Mail.

‘The dynamic online environment will continue to provide voice-, text- and increasingly video-based communications, characterised by increased diversity in services and service providers,’ Mr Chapman said.

This report is the second of three reports to be published under the ACMA’s Communications report series, 2010–11. Other reports in this series include: 

  • Report 1—e-commerce marketplace in Australia: Online shopping, (released on 16 November 2011)
  • Report 3—The emerging mobile telecommunications service market in Australia. (due for release December 2011)



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