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Sunday, 16 January 2011 16:57

Broadband users have more gigabytes than they know what to do with

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Telecoms market research firm, Market Clarity, says it has confirmed that most customers of Australian fixed broadband services use only a fraction of their monthly download quota: 15 percent on average.

Market Clarity says the situation has arisen because ISPs have progressively boosted quotas without corresponding increases in prices.

CEO Shara Evans, said: 'Even before the 'Terabyte wars' began, Australian broadband users were already the lucky beneficiaries of growing download allowances. That trend, most apparent since around 2008, led us to wonder whether there might not be a gap between the allowances subscribers receive when buying broadband plans, and their consumption of broadband data.'

She added: "Since 2006, the average residential fixed broadband consumption has more than doubled, from 2.4GB per user per month to around 7GB per user per month. However, download allowances by June 2010 - before Terabyte plans emerged - were already averaging 45GB per residential subscriber.

Market Clarity's finding is likely to be seized on by opponents of the National Broadband Network to claim that Australians will have no need of bandwidths of 100Mbps, or possibly even 1Gbps that will give then the ability to download many gigabytes of data in minutes.

Market Clarity has attempted to pre-empt the use of its findings in this way saying: "The NBN is designed to serve a wide range of policy objectives, including the restructure of the competitive landscape in Australian telecommunications, equalisation of telecommunications access across 93 percent of Australian households (the proposed FTTH footprint), the enablement of new and innovative applications within Australia, and the creation of a network which can reasonably be expected to remain in service for 30 years or more. None of these policy objectives are affected by a point-in-time 'snapshot' of user behaviour."

No ISPs in Australia give out any information on customer usage against plans or of uptake of different plans so what Market Clarity has done is to attempt to build a profile of customer distribution across published plans that matches ISPs' published ARPU data and then to compare total download quotas against figures for actual downloads published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

It acknowledges the limitations and potential inaccuracies of this methodology but says that errors in the study are likely to under-estimate rather than over-estimate the notional download allowances purchased by customers. "The gap between reported downloads and purchased allowances is probably larger than reported in this study, rather than smaller."

The report is published free on Market Clarity's Website.

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