Slow, expensive internet is holding Australia back

Photo: Uriel Sinai/ Getty Images.

Australia may have one of the highest levels of smartphone usage in the world, but has fallen in the global rankings for digital readiness.

Professional services group EY today released the third edition of the Digital Australia: State of the Nation report.

Australia is now eighteenth in a list of 139 countries, slipping two places in the World Economic Forum’s Networked Readiness Index.

The index measures the drivers needed for digital technologies to meet their potential. Factors driving down Australia’s national ranking include the cost of fixed broadband and a low score for business adoption of information and communications technology.

Although Australia’s Index score is the same as it was in 2014, the nation’s digital position has deteriorated as other countries have advanced.

Here’s where Australia sits in the world:

Source: EY

For fixed broadband, there is an average speed of 11.1 megabits per second. Australia’s internet speeds vary significantly across the country and the nation is falling behind other countries.

However, Australia scored well in individual usage of information and communications technology, with the world’s tenth highest penetration of mobile broadband.

However, it was brought down by the cost of fixed broadband.

Affordability is Australia’s lowest performing digital readiness aspect, currently ranked at fifty-seventh in the world.

However, most consumers are not aware that Australia’s digital economy is ranked lower than many comparable nations.

Consumer optimism remains high in Australia with 56% of survey participants ranking Australia’s digital economy as the same or more advanced than peer economies, up from 49% in 2015.

One of the most important attributes for consumers is the download speed, particularly with the rise in streaming.

This is seen as a shortcoming and only a third of consumers consider Australia’s current fixed and mobile internet quality to be “reasonable”.

Global data shows Australia’s average national internet speed as being substantially slower than many countries, as this chart shows:

Source: EY

With 88% of Australians using a smartphone, the expectation is for fast, efficient delivery on a mobile platform.

Australians want information instantly and expect a truly differentiated and frictionless experience.

Digital disruption has demolished 52% of the Fortune 500 companies in Australia since 2000 and the disappearance of many iconic, global companies and products in recent years is a reminder that relevance is everything.

A lot of consumers (40%) say that organisations failing to offer a high quality digital experience run the risk of losing their business.

Jenny Young, EY Oceania Technology, Media & Entertainment and Telecommunications and Customer Leader, says the most successful organisations have recognised the rapid shift in customer mindset, disposition and behaviour.

“The focus needs to be on the individual consumer, ensuring that customers feel like their needs are understood and the experiences, products and services they receive are personalised,” she says.

Social media is an integral part of consumer behaviour. Almost a third (31%) of Australians have given feedback to a company on social media in the past 12 months.

Facebook continues to be the dominant social media offering and has the same level of penetration as smartphones — 80% of Australians use Facebook, with 30% increasing their time on the platform over the last year.

While Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat saw a rise in usage, no social network matches Facebook’s overall usage levels.