by Byron Connolly

Mobile broadband boosts economy by $33.8B

Apr 03, 20142 mins

The availability of mobile broadband services led to a $33.8 billion increase in economic activity in Australia last year, contributing 2.28 per cent to our total gross domestic product (GDP).

This was a key finding of research commissioned by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on the economic impacts of mobile broadband on the Australian economy from 2006 to 2013. The research was conducted by the Centre for International Economics.

Mobile broadband increased the growth rate of the Australian economy by 0.28 per cent each year from 2007 to 2013. The actual growth over this period was 2.9 per cent per year, indicating that mobile broadband contributed a substantial part of economic growth through productivity improvements, the report said.

Productivity growth from mobile communications sector led to an increase of $7.3 billion in Australia’s GDP, the report claimed.

Businesses reported, on average, that mobile broadband had reduced business costs by 1.4 per cent. It ranked as an issue of similar importance to a more efficient taxation system and less government regulation, the report said.

Sectors citing the largest impacts from mobile broadband included electricity, gas, water and waste services, transport, postal and warehousing, administrative and support functions, and financial and insurance services.

The report also highlighted that the allocation of spectrum could potentially restrain or reduce the future economic value of mobile broadband.

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman, said the government has taken “tough decisions” to make available more spectrum for mobile broadband services.

The ACMA recently finalised auctions for spectrum in the 700MHz and 2.5GHz bands. Optus, Telstra and TPG Internet purchased spectrum in this auction for a combined priced of almost $2 billion.

“From the start of 2015, the digital dividend spectrum will underpin the mobile broadband industry’s growth, [providing] faster download speeds and contributing to productivity in years to come,” said Chapman.

In a statement issued in response to the report, Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association CEO Chris Althaus said that his organisation believes that “to maximise the benefits of mobility in a digital economy it is vital that industry has access to adequate spectrum to ensure that mobile network operators have capacity to meet consumer demand for faster speed and bandwidth-hungry mobile data applications and services.”

The ACMA report also said mobile data use would grow annually by 38 per cent from an estimated monthly average of 22.2PB in 2013 to 81.1PB in 2017.

4G data traffic is expected to increase by 76 per cent annually between 2013 and 2017, the report said.