Suggestions that Australia’s fixed line broadband data dominance is set to play second fiddle to mobile broadband services might need a reality check, with wireless broadband accounting for just three percent of the total data downloaded in the December quarter.

The latest figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) show that the vast majority – 91 percent – of all internet downloads were served by fixed line broadband services in the three months ending December 2018. According to the ACCC, Australians downloaded approximately 5.1 million terabytes in the quarter.

This is despite reports that 5G broadband offerings by some of Australia’s leading mobile telcos have the potential to disrupt the ongoing viability of fixed line broadband services provided by the country’s somewhat beleaguered National Broadband Network (NBN).

According to the ACCC’s Internet Activity Report – December 2018 [PDF], released on 14 May, the total volume of data downloaded in the three months ending December was 5.1 million terabytes, with fibre internet connections accounting for the greatest majority proportion of total; fixed line/wired connections, followed by DSL.

According to the report, there was a substantially smaller amount of data downloaded via mobile handsets and wireless broadband over the same period, with the wireless technologies representing six percent and three percent of the overall data download volume in its entirety during the period.

By comparison, around six percent of the broadband data downloaded in Australia during the period was done so via mobile handsets, and approximately three percent via wireless broadband.

However, the latest figures also show that the most common way consumers accessed the internet during the period was through mobile handsets, with 24.3 million of the estimated 39.9 million broadband services in operation during the quarter being attributed to mobile handsets.

“This report provides a clear indication that while consumers are most often using their phones to access the internet, when downloading significant content they currently favour fixed line connections,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.

At the same time, the report suggested that the imminent arrival of 5G products and services will likely support greater increases in the volume of data downloaded via mobile handsets and wireless broadband access technologies.

All in all, the ACCC estimates that the total number of retail broadband services in operation (SIOs) reached 39.9 million as of the end of last year, with 24.3 million of these services made up of mobile handsets, 8.4 million wireless broadband and 7.2 million fixed-line or wired broadband.

To put this into context, Australia’s population was 25,370, 917 at the time of writing, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).