Video streaming outpaces phone use: report

Finbar O’Mallon
(Australian Associated Press)


It could be time to call mum, with a new report finding we’re spending more time binge watching streaming services and less time talking on the phone.

The consumer watchdog report released on Tuesday found Australians in 2018-19 were downloading and streaming at unprecedented levels.

Over the same period, the time Australians spent talking on their phones dropped.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said there was a 47 per cent jump in data downloads, with the majority over fixed lines.

This surge is mainly attributed to the use of video streaming services like Netflix, Stan or Kayo Sports.

But the report says part of the drop in phone usage could be because people were using apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp instead.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said higher quality communications infrastructure had allowed Australians to enjoy more data-heavy activity.

Phone and broadband plans are also becoming slightly cheaper, the report said.

Mobile phone plan prices dropped by 27 per cent since 2015-16, while broadband plans dropped by nine per cent over the same period.

But Mr Sims warned there were limited options when it came to affordable, no-frills plans.

“Consumers who do not want ‘bells and whistles’ are struggling to find cheap, entry level, fixed broadband and voice products,” Mr Sims said.

Instead, telcos are offering more expensive plans with inclusions to lure in customers.

Mr Sims said the commission may still have to consider stepping in to make sure people weren’t worse off when they switched to the national broadband network.

People have faced internet slower speeds when switching to the NBN, with others being left without internet while they waited for retailers to connect them to the network.

Telstra still maintained market dominance when it came to fixed and mobile services, but this was being challenged as customers switched to new market entrants.

The telco’s grip on the NBN was slowly being broken as the network reached more metropolitan areas.


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