SYDNEY: Mobile data consumption is rocketing in Australia and local telecommunications companies are having to rethink their data offer, with forms of unlimited data plans set to become increasingly common, an industry figure has said.

The trend is being driven by several factors, according to David Marshall, general manager at Dodo, including the growing popularity of video streaming platforms and long commuting times; consumers are also making more video calls.

A recent report from Screen Australia revealed the use of SVOD services has almost doubled in the past three years following the launch of Netflix and that 25% of VOD users accessed content via their smartphones.  

As a result, there is pressure from consumers for higher data caps and some telcos have also trialled unlimited data plans.

“Although not called unlimited, these types of plans do already exist in the market with unmetered access to Netflix and Spotify at controlled speeds,” Marshall told The Age

“These are more likely to become the norm in the market in the next 12 to 24 months on many mobile plans,” he added.

Telcos are understandably cautious about offering unlimited data plans but are reacting to increased data demand – Vodafone, for example, saw a 40% jump in data usage last year – with high data plan options.

At comparison site Finder, a third of customers were looking for data limits between 1GB and 3GB, but 16% were looking at 5GB plans, 14% at 10GB and 11% at 20GB; there is even a 200GB option, according to spokesman Alex Kidman.

As Marshall indicated, “unlimited” plans may be constrained by the speed of the service and Kidman cautioned that this approach might not find favour with Australia’s regulators.

Marshall also contrasted the small proportion of data being downloaded via mobile (8%) in 2017 compared with fixed broadband (92%) and argued that “the quality and consistency of services will always be better on fixed.

"Mobile and fixed services will increasingly work together,” he stated.

Sourced from The Age; additional content by WARC staff