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There are now over two million Australian households and businesses accessing download speeds of 24 Mbps or greater.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports every six months on Internet usage in Australia. The data is more reliable than that from market research companies, as it relies on the complete activities of Australia’s Internet Service Providers rather than surveys and sample.

New ABS figures show that there are now 2,088 million subscribers accessing the Internet at download speeds of 24 Mbps or greater, a substantial increase of 443,000 over the previous year.

ABS Assistant Director of Innovation and Technology Lesley Martin said the trend to higher download speeds is consistent with wider availability of fast internet technology. “We are continuing to see growth in the number of subscribers accessing the Internet through DSL, fibre and cable.

"The total volume of data downloaded (excluding mobile handsets) reached 861,000 terabytes for the three months to the end of December 2013, an increase of one third compared to the volume downloaded in the June quarter 2013,” she said.

"Of this total, fixed-line broadband was used for 96% of downloads, which confirms recent trends that subscribers are using fixed-line Internet connections to download the majority of their data.”

The advertised download speed range which recorded the highest number of subscribers at 31 December 2013 was the 8Mbps to less than 24Mbps range, with 5.6 million subscribers, a 4% increase from the end of December 2012.

The number of subscribers that accessed the Internet at an advertised download speed of 1.5 Mbps to less than 8 Mbps decreased by 16% to 4.2 million subscribers between 30 June and 31 December 2013.

The report also reveals an increase in mobile handset usage. As at 31 December 2013 there were 20.3 million mobile handset subscribers in Australia (for a population of 23.3 million), an increase of 3% from 19.6 million subscribers at the end of June 2013.

The volume of data downloaded via mobile handsets for the three months ended 31 December 2013 was 27,627 Terabytes, a 41% increase from the three months ended 30 June 2013. For the 20.3 million mobile handset subscribers, this equates to 0.5 GB of data downloaded per subscriber per month.

There were 12,397,000 internet subscribers in Australia at the end of December 2013, 78% household and 22% business and government. This is an increase of 2% from the \ previous year. Over 98% of internet connections were broadband – 49.1% mobile and fixed wireless, 39.5% fixed wireless, and 9.7%. cable, fibre and satellite. Dial-up, dominant in 2006, is down to 1.7% (209,000 subscribers). Wireless first exceeded DSL in 2011.

After massive rationalisation a few years ago, the number of ISPs in Australia has now stabilised. There are now 76 ISPs in Australia with more than 1000 subscribers, the same number as a year ago

The full Internet Activity, Australia, December 2013 report (ABS 8153.0) is available at www.abs.gov.au.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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