Australian internet usage is increasing, but the number of people using the internet to access content is rising faster than ever before.
That’s according to a new analysis of data from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) by telecommunications company Airtel.
Key points:The number of Australians using the AT&T broadband network is on track to surpass the 9.8 million peak year peak in 2016 and the latest figures from the ACCC show more than 3.5 million Australians use a smartphone or tablet to access the internetAirtel says the peak year figure is now just over 10 millionThe Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data suggests more than 4.5% of Australian adults use the internet for at least one purposeAirtels data shows Australians’ use of the internet is growing, but there are fewer than 9.4 million Australians using it for at at least a one-time purpose, up from 8.7 million the previous peak year.
The latest ABS data shows more than 1.2 million Australians were online for at most a few minutes a day in 2016, compared with 967,000 in 2015.
But the number using the network at least four times a week is rising, the ABS says, from just over 2.2% of Australians to almost 3.3%.
The ABS data also shows Australians using mobile devices to access their internet is at an all-time high, with over 1.5 billion Australians using smartphones or tablets to access internet services.
The ABS also said more Australians were using the fibre-optic network in the past year, with the number more than doubling from just under 500,000 people to nearly 1.7 billion.
The number using fibre-to-the-premises has also risen from just shy of 500,00 in 2016 to over 1 billion.
However, in the wake of the data, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the data was misleading, and would only reflect the internet usage of a tiny slice of the population.
“The ABS analysis shows Australians are using more internet than ever and are using it to access more media content and more relevant content,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.
“But the ABS data is misleading, because it does not account for the digital content Australians access.”
There are people who use the web and use it for a whole range of other things, but they don’t have a role in the content they consume.
“He said the ABS was aware of some Australians using their smartphones to access other forms of content, but this data showed they were not actually consuming more than 10 minutes of internet a day.”
As a result of the ABS figures, it would appear that Australians are watching TV more, or consuming more content online, than they ever have,” he said.
Mr Sims said consumers would need to be aware of what content they were watching and were able to filter out potentially misleading data from other sources.”
If consumers want to see accurate information on how much they are spending on their internet bill, they should be able to do so,” he added.”
This is particularly relevant given that, despite the ABS’s efforts, there is little data on Australians’ mobile use, which may be more relevant to consumers than it is to the ABS.
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