Data use in Australia is soaring -- we used the equivalent of watching more than 9000 years' worth of Netflix in July alone

Ron Tom/Disney Channel via Getty Images

Telstra has been looking at how Australians have been using broadband over the past year and it looks like the country is rapidly living life online, producing a massive surge in data use.

The changes in consumer behaviour appear to justify the principles behind the national broadband network, with the telco finding downloads via fixed broadband over the 12 months between July 2017 and 2019 as customers switched from ADSL to NBN jumped by nearly 50%.

NSW consumes nearly a third (30%) of Telstra’s total fixed network data – 71.6 petabytes (PB) in July’s household total of 243.3PB.

A petabyte is equal to 1,024 terabytes – to put it in perspective, about 1.5 million CD-ROMs.

As Tesltra puts it, that means that based on Netflix’s estimate of 3GB per hour for an HD video stream, Australians chewed through the data equivalent of watching 9387 years worth of Netflix collectively in July. At 81 million hours, that’s more than three hours each.

But Northern Territorians took out the top honours when it came to data consumption at 263GB per household in July, with NSW at the bottom end of the spectrum when it came to monthly household usage at 214GB, just in front of the ACT at 193GB.

South Australian households were the second biggest users at 248GB per household, following by Western Australian and Tasmania, tied on 231GB, Queensland (225GB) and Victoria (208GB).

The average Australian household used around 196GB, with ADSL users getting through 153GB, while NBN users consumers around a third more data at 210GB. Telstra found that former DSL customers use 47% more monthly data when they move to the NBN.

Interestingly, the overall growth in data consumption over the year stayed roughly on the five-year trend average at 40% year-on-year

The total usage volume per household have increased by 23% for ADSL users and 26% for nbn users between July 2017 and July 2018.

The northern Adelaide suburb of Munno Para, 30km from the CBD was the country’s biggest data-using postcode at 331GB.

Here are the top 10 postcodes for household broadband data use. Queensland seems to be the place where everyone hits the internet hardest.


Telstra’s Head of Fixed Products Jana Kotatko, said video streaming is the biggest driver of the changes in data use.

“The growth of 4K televisions combined with faster internet speeds means Australians are watching videos in amazing quality and clarity, creating a much better entertainment experience than five years ago. “Because of this improved experience as our customers move over to faster speeds on the NBN, we’re seeing their data usage increase,” she said.

“In the past 12 months we’ve bestowed faster speeds to nearly 1.5 million customers and offered unlimited data across our most popular home internet bundles.”

The data usage figures were released by Telstra to coincide with the release of the telco’s updated fixed broadband plans, which saw another 600,000 customers given unlimited data allowances for free.

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