Australians are both mobile and broadband hogs

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) today released a report showing most Australians have both a fixed landline and mobile phone with 80 percent having access to the Internet.

Dubbed Telecommunications Today, the national survey was undertaken in April, 2007.

It found that while Australians depend highly on telecommunications services, that reliance is significantly influenced by socio-economic factors, with age and having children particularly shaping attitudes towards uptake of mobile phones and broadband Internet.

In line with Australia wholeheartedly embracing telecommunications services, the research also shows that customers are becoming increasingly aware of new and emerging telecommunication services.

An estimated 30 percent of mobile phone users reported having a 3G mobile phone, while 81 per cent of Internet users were aware of a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service, with 21 per cent of them having used one.

Over coming months ACMA plans to publish additional research reports with further analysis on other issues covered in Telecommunications Today.

These issues include take up and use of communication services by small business and farms, the level of substitution and complementary usage between mobile and landline services, and more detailed consumer attitudes to the potential take-up of new emerging services and technologies.

The full Telecommunications Today report can be found on ACMA's Web site.

The ACMA is undertaking a number of studies under its work program to meet statutory requirements under the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005 and Section 105 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.

Meanwhile, industry can now submit their proposals to roll-out a new high-speed broadband network in Australia's capital cities and major regional centres.

Announced yesterday by ICT Minister Helen Coonan, the Senator welcomed the release of the final guidelines which are non-prescriptive and provide industry with real scope to develop innovative, commercial proposals for assessment as they see fit in a competitive context, she said.

"Several local and international companies have already expressed interest in participating in this important initiative and they now have the opportunity to prepare formal proposals," Coonan said.

"The Expert Taskforce's assessment process is one of the key elements of the federal government's Australia Connected initiative and it provides a unique opportunity for industry to develop and submit proposals to secure reasonable regulatory or legislative amendments that can enable a commercial high speed broadband network build.

"Industry proposals should outline price and non-price terms and conditions of access and identify the regulatory conditions required to facilitate a commercial build of the broadband network.

"The Australian Government will then, as necessary, introduce legislation to facilitate the roll-out of the new network infrastructure."

Coonan said it will be done without the need for taxpayer funds.

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Both Telstra and the G9 have each issued full page advertisements saying they do not require any taxpayer funds for their proposed fibre-to-the-node networks in capital cities and major regional centres.

"Alternatively Labor proposes to spend $4.7 billion on a similar network to around 75 per cent of the population despite taxpayer funds not being required," Coonan said.

"What industry players have asked for are changes to the regulatory settings - not billions of dollars in taxpayer funding.

"Taxpayer funding should be reserved for under served areas where the industry is not prepared to invest commercially, such as in rural and regional areas.

"Ironically Labor will leave three million Australian households, all in rural and regional areas, stranded without access to high speed broadband and without the regional Communications Fund to provide for any future service upgrades."

The final guidelines do not specify that the high speed network infrastructure must be a fibre-to-the-node network.

The Guidelines and the Expert Taskforce's report on its consultations are available at www.dcita.gov.au/Expert_Taskforce.

- with Sandra Rossi

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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