Australians are now using more internet data than ever before and the trend isn't likely to slow down any time soon, according to new figures from the Bureau of Statistics.
The release of the figures underscores some key reforms in the telco industry – the introduction of 4G networks and the construction of the National Broadband Network.
According to the latest ABS figures, there are now 16.2 million mobile phones in Australia, up by 7% from the December quarter last year, and 12 million internet subscribers.
But the biggest increase was in data. The amount of data downloaded through phones has increased by a third from the December quarter 2011 to the June quarter 2012, and the amount downloaded, excluding phones, during the same period is up by 20%.
The figures highlight the ongoing exodus of data from the desktop to the mobile.
The amount of connections at the "high speed" end of the spectrum, which is anywhere from 24Mbps to 100Mbps or more, grew by 20% and 34% respectively. However, most download speeds are within 1.5Mbps to 24Mbps.
The total amount of data downloaded via handsets was 6.6 terabytes, while data downloaded excluding handsets was 414 terabytes.
Telsyte research consulting manager Chris Coughlan says most of the increase during such a short period of time could largely be attributed to online video.
"More than likely, it's an increase in the front end of people watching video over the internet. Every sort of page has video on it now, and that's increased the drive for bigger downloads."
The figures underscore the need for businesses to be aware of how much they are downloading – large internet quotas in a business are essential given the amount of services being used that demand a high amount of internet traffic.
But the biggest change is in mobiles. Coughlan says the introduction of new 4G networks provides ample room for downloading large files, given 4G can reach speeds as high as the average ADSL connection, or even faster.
"But there's a conception that 4G will allow for faster downloads and that's it, but the real benefit is capacity," he says.
"You don't need 4G on an iPhone, because the small screen means you don't need to render a lot. The real benefit is that you're creating more capacity on the network."
The advent of 4G networks is almost sure to result in complaints to telcos over bill-shock, as smartphones allow for faster downloads.
The industry has introduced a new consumer code to pre-empt a rise in complaints.