In common with other maturing markets, growth in the number of broadband subscribers has slowed in recent years in the wake of higher penetration. There has also been a shift in consumers adopting mobile-only broadband solutions, commonly associated with customers choosing to forgo fixed-line telephony services. This trend has helped dampen demand for fixed-line broadband. Nevertheless, access to fast broadband services has become a key consideration for most people. Following the decisions made in late 2014 regarding the multi-technology architecture of the NBN, there has been greater purpose in rolling out the network, while agreements have been reached with both Telstra and Optus for the continued use of their HFC networks, much of which will be incorporated within the NBN. There remains scope within the existing regulatory regime for competition among players in the fibre sector.
Revenue growth from broadband services is expected to remain low, at about 1.5% annually, during the next two to three years, partly due to effective competition in the DSL sector, as well as to consumer reluctance to accept unwarranted price increases. Opportunities remain in the mobile broadband sector where all three mobile network operators operate extensive Long-term Evolution (LTE) networks. Since the beginning of 2015, Telstra and Optus have been able to make national use of their concessions in the 700MHz band.
The DSL sector continues to show resilience in the marketplace, bolstered during the last year by an emphasis among operators to adopt new technologies which can deliver greater data capacity on legacy copper infrastructure. The anticipated introduction of standards for G.fast technologies promises improved downloads for customers on short copper loops. The amended NBN architecture, with less emphasis on FttP, has also meant that the number of customers expected to migrate from copper to fibre-based services is far lower than initial NBN Co forecasts. Many telcos have installed their own DSLAM infrastructure, enabling them to provide fairly high-speed internet services via ADSL2+.
In the cable sector, both Telstra and Optus have upgraded their cable networks with DOCSIS 3.0 technology, providing data at up to 100Mb/s. This investment has enabled the providers to meet consumer demand for faster broadband services. The NBN has also placed greater scope for HFC plant being part of the national broadband plan. In December 2014 the revised NBN agreement recognised that Telstra's HFC network and elements of Optus's HFC infrastructure will be deployed as part of the NBN, so reducing the cost of a rollout schedule which aims to reach some 3.6 million premises by June 2016.
There are fewer than one million cable broadband subscribers, accounting for less than 8% of the total broadband market in Australia. However, most of these subscribers are high-end users providing relatively high ARPU for the cable providers.
The digital media sector is set to undergo considerable changes into 2015, given the investment among operators for subscription VoD services. These changes will also emerge on the back of improved national fibre-backbone networks, as also on international cable networks capable of transferring the anticipated increase in data traffic in coming years. The VoD market will remain constrained by the relatively small size of the Australian market (compared to the UK and USA), which could make it difficult for some players to make a mark. The four key players are hoping to compete on content, given that each has set the same price for basic services. Stan, set up by Fairfax media and Nine entertainment, competes with Presto (set up by News Corp and Seven West Media) and Quickflix, while Netflix has set its sights on a March 2015 launch. The popularity of the medium is indicated by the many thousands of Australian subscribers to Netflix pre-launch, through the use of VPNs and geo-blocking apps.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.
See Full Report Details: Australia - Broadband, Digital Media and Digital Economy Statistics (tables only)
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