Benefits of mobile broadband to Australia run to tens of billions, claims report

mobile-broadbandWhile the UK Government continues to fuss over the rollout of broadband in the UK, bickering with the notoriously ponderous BT about a dysfunctional monopoly they created themselves, a new report from Australia claims that the economic benefits of mobile broadband in that country came to nearly AU$34 billion (£19 billion) last year. The report commissioned by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in partnership with the Centre for International Economics (CIE) and Analysys Mason found that although the mobile telecoms sector only accounts for 0.5 percent of economic activity in Australia, its impact on productivity is profound. Last year it accounted for an additional AU$33.8 billion in activity, 2.28 percent of Australia’s total gross domestic product. The report makes its claim on the basis that between 2006 and 2013, productivity growth was 11.3 percent per year, but would have been only 6.7 percent without mobile broadband.

The report surveyed 1,000 business and found that a total of AU$7.3 billion of additional economic activity came from productivity growth from the mobile communications sector itself, while the remaining AU$26.5 billion came from time savings reported by businesses in other sectors. The report claims that there was an average time saving of 2.3 percent for employees in those businesses with access to mobile broadband.

The crossover between home lives and working lives is evident in the report’s finding that most mobile broadband use came from households (70 percent), followed by businesses (28 percent). Smartphones were said to use an average of 1.7GB of data per month in Australia in 2013, which the report forecasts will rise to 3GB per month by 2017, as the availability of 4G devices and networks rolls out nationwide.

Despite the productivity gains made for businesses using mobile devices, the report found that the majority of the use of mobile devices were mainly for phone calls, followed by emails. Businesses reported that the biggest change in the availability of mobile devices was providing access to the internet to employees, and allowing them to use their time away from their main place of work productively.