Telcos see low adoption of data plans for tablets

Why buy mobile broadband when you can tether? That’s the question many Australians are asking, according to a Telsyte report released today.

In its bi-annual Australian Mobile Services Market Study, Telsyte found that Australia’s mobile broadband market grew by only 3 per cent over the 12 months of calendar-year 2013. Telsyte attributed the slow growth to smartphone tethering and growth of public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Telcos are only able to monetise 20 per cent of the consumer media tablet market because Australians have become comfortable relying on tethering and Wi-Fi networks, Telsyte said. In addition, most tablet usage happens in the home, it said.

“Telcos have had some success with mobile Wi-Fi modems, but it is expected smartphone tethering will continue to disrupt this market,” said Telsyte analyst Alvin Lee.

“The opportunity for dedicated mobile broadband is diminishing even as mobile traffic continues to grow.”

Public Wi-FI hotspots are “sprouting like mushrooms and are now widely supported by local councils, shopping centres, local businesses and increasingly our transport networks,” Lee said.

In addition, most Australians are able to avoid paying their mobile provider for data at work, Telsyte found. More than 80 per cent of businesses with more than 20 employees operate Wi-Fi networks accessible by employees, the analysts said.

At the end of December, the Australian mobile services market had nearly 31 million services in operation, with about 23 per cent on 4G LTE networks, Telsyte said.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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