Number of mobile phones now exceeds Australia’s population

For the first time there is now more than one mobile service for every Australian, with 21.26 million mobile phone services in operation at 30 June 2007, a 7.6 per cent increase from 19.76 million the year before, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority Communications Report 2006-07, released today.

A significant increase in 3G mobile customer numbers helped drive that growth, which was in contrast to a small but continued decline in fixed-phone services over the last financial year.

‘There are now more than 4.5 million 3G mobile services in Australia, a 192 per cent increase between 30 June 2006 and 30 June 2007,’ said Chris Chapman, ACMA Chairman.

Tabled in parliament today by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, the report provides a comprehensive overview of changes in the communications industry.

The number of fixed services dropped from 11.26 million to 10.92 million between 30 June 2006 and 30 June 2007. The number of payphones in operation in Australia (both Telstra operated and privately operated) dropped by 8,368, to 49,862.

In 2005-06 almost a million new geographic numbers were allocated by ACMA. In 2006-07, geographic numbers were predominantly allocated for VoIP services – 2.89 million out of a total 3.23 million. This increase is a sign of competition and the entry of new VoIP providers into the Australian market requiring a supply of numbers for services across the country.

Internet subscribers were another area of communications services growth. There were 6.43 million internet subscribers in Australia, made up of 2.09 million narrowband and 4.33 million broadband subscribers (to the end of March 2007). Domain name registrations also grew: 795,368 .com.au registrations in the year compared with 612,918 the previous year.

In the broadcasting sector, Australian television networks met the minimum requirements of at least 55 per cent of all Australian programming between 6am and midnight, met annual quotas for children’s programming (as outlined in the Children’s Television Standards (CTS)), and requirements for first release Australian drama programs (as outlined in the Australian Content Standard).

The report also includes the results of an analysis of the consumer benefits and economic impact resulting from reforms in the telecommunications sector in 1997. The analysis concluded that total production in the Australian economy in 2006-07 grew by an additional $1.2 billion due to price and service competition in the telecommunications sector.