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4G increases Aussie mobile downloads, but allowances get smaller

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, mobile network downloads have doubled in the last year as more customers transition from 3G to 4G services.

Despite a 21% increase in the number of customers on the network, Australia’s mobile devices downloaded 19,636 terabytes in the three months to June 30, almost double the 9943 terabytes last year. That means the average user is downloading 300 megabytes per month.

Despite much faster speeds available on 4G, compared to 3G, many people are using downloads on browsing and social media. Telsyte analyst Ford Fadaghi told The Australian Financial Review, “Social networking applications and photo sharing are the top applications for data usage.”

He also noted however the massive amount of bandwidth that is used by streaming music services to phones, “Increasingly consumers are also gravitating to streaming music services which can also dramatically increase a smartphone user’s data usage.”

Unsurprisingly telcos are now slowly retracting the available amount of data on new plans. Telstra (ASX: TLS), Optus (owned by Singapore Telecommunications (ASX: SGT)) and Vodafone (part-owned by Hutchison Telecommunications Australia (ASX: HTA)) each claim to have the best 4G networks available to customers but all have reduced the amount of data on plans.

Telstra says its next network could be capable of handling speeds of up to 300 megabits per second – faster than the basic speeds on the NBN.

Mobile downloads are still tiny compared to fixed line services like broadband. In the three months to June 30 Australians downloaded 61% more from fixed broadband services than a year earlier – equating to nearly 630,000 terabytes in three months.

This has prompted some experts to argue that more customers will take advantage of the NBN’s reliability and larger download limits rather than transition all their internet services to wireless networks like 4G.

Foolish takeaway

As the NBN rolls out across Australia, a number of companies will stand to benefit. The fastest growing internet service providers in Australia are TPG Telecom (ASX: TPM), iiNET (ASX: IIN) and M2 Telecommunications (ASX: MTU).

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Motley Fool contributor Owen Raszkiewicz does not have a financial interest in any of the mentioned companies.

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