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This report provides data and analysis on a range of mobile technologies in Australia, as well as an assessment of network developments. It assesses the prospects for operators as they extend their LTE deployments beyond the major urban areas and deeper into rural areas, and invest in prototype 5G technologies in preparation for deployments anticipated from 2020. The report contains a range of key statistics on network data throughput, operator strategies and emerging technologies. In addition, the report assesses operator revenue and ARPU and details the development of the prepaid and contract subscriber bases for each MNO. The handset and smartphone markets are covered, as well as MNOs’ financial and operational data.
Australia is a world leader in the 4G and 5G mobile market ecosystem
The Australian mobile market is dominated by the three major mobile network operators (MNO) Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone (VHA). There is also a significant number of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) in Australia.
Increasingly in an era leaning further to mobile data than voice, mobile networks must offer sufficient performance for customers. The three LTE networks operated by Optus, Telstra and Vodafone have developed rapidly during the past three years as these players strive to provide an infrastructure capable of meeting customer demand for mobile broadband services.
These MNOs have invested in spectrum and network upgrades to bolster network capacity, while the geographic extension of LTE will see wider take-up from consumers in coming years. Given that about 90% of all mobile device sales are now smartphones, the growth in mobile data traffic is increasing rapidly.
5G represents the next evolution in mobile technologies. It is expected to support an immense increase in data rates, at 1Gb/s and higher, reduce latency and enable networks to connect a vast number of devices.
5G is only one element of a larger ecosystem that includes broadband access, Internet of Things (IoT), M2M, cloud computing, data centres and data analytics. Only when 5G is deployed within that broader ecosystem will operators be able to reap the benefits of this new technology.
Mobile broadband usage in particular has taken off during the last few years, a trend which will continue in the wake of the marketing of a wide range of affordable and more capable devices, and of LTE population coverage which by 2017 had reached about 98%.
In common with most mature markets, in Australia there are significantly more subscribers to mobile services than there are people. Australia’s mobile market is now highly mature and developed with slow annual subscriber growth rates of below 3% since 2013. Mobile penetration is now well over 100%.
For all operators, price competition combined with a focus on managing their mobile businesses as they adapt to new technologies being brought into play, have led to considerable pressure in recent years.
Very slow growth is predicted over the next five years to 2022 with penetration rates predicted to rise only slightly above the projected population increase.
All three Australian MNOs are now investing billions of dollars in their networks annually, with a view to securing new customers and retaining existing ones. Increasingly, consumers are looking to mobile communications for their broadband needs.
Smartphones, and to a lesser extent tablets, have become central as a means of accessing the internet, particularly among the younger demographic. In addition, these devices are beginning to dominate overall e-commerce, accounting for about a third of e-commerce transactions. This proportion will increase further into 2018 in line with the wider availability of devices with larger screens, more mobile-friendly websites and easier payment systems. These devices account for a growing proportion of mobile data accessed and of business and commerce related transactions.
- MNVO Amaysim announced the launch of its NBN products.
- Telstra started to roll out new next-gen optical tech in its underlying transmission network.
- Telstra and Ericsson are actively working to build momentum in the LTE-Broadcast global ecosystem.
- Telstra has claimed a world first with the launch of a live LTE network capable of supporting 1Gbps peak download speeds.
- Optus took a step towards 5G switching on 4.5G network services across a suburb in NSW.
- 4.5G and 5G are the new frontiers linked to wearable device communications and other IoT and M2M activities.
Companies mentioned in this report:
SingTel, Vodafone, 3, VHA, Optus, Telstra, MeU Mobile; Amaysim, Woolworths, Crazy Johns, JB HiFi, Hutchison Australia, 3, NBN, Virgin Mobile, Aldi Mobile; Lebara, Kogan Mobile, Red Bull Mobile, Macquarie Telecom, Pivotel, Apple, Nokia, BlackBerry, HTC, Google, Ericsson, Sony, Samsung.