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Kiwis' internet smartphone usage tops 2.5 million

Monday 15th October 2012

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Smartphones users are in the majority for the first time in New Zealand, with more than half of all kiwis using their mobile phone to access the internet, according to government figures.

The number of mobile broadband subscribers rose 34 percent to 2.5 million in the 12 months ended June 30 compared to a year earlier, the government department said in its annual Internet Service Provider Survey. New Zealand's population is 4.41 million.

"Our experience would absolutely reflect these findings," Telecom's chief marketing officer, Jason Paris told BusinessDesk. "We are seeing a steady increase in mobile broadband usage and we expect this trend to continue."

"The excitement generated by the launch of new smart phones with new features is evidence of how important these devices are to people," she said. "Naturally the greater use of smart phones means more signalling and data usage."

The survey found kiwis now are chasing higher data caps, with the average user consuming 7 gigabytes more data per month than a year ago. The total number of users with a data cap of 50GB or more surged 789 percent to 256,800 in 2012, while users with no data cap rose 275 percent to 82,500.

"Using the internet to shop, look for places to visit or even watch their favourite TV shows is becoming a part of everyday life for kiwis," says information and communication technology statistics manager Hamish Hill. "Internet service providers have increased their data caps, so there is more choice and flexibility when surfing the web on fixed broadband connections."

The average kiwi uses an estimated 16GB of data a month. That's equivalent to streaming about 142 episodes of Shortland Street, Hill said.

New Zealanders with a data cap of 20GB to 50GB rose 67 percent to 668,600. Kiwis using less than 20GB fell about 40 percent to 600,000.

"We've seen data usage on our network roughly quadruple over the past two years," Vodafone's external communication manager Emma Carter said. "As more and more people move to smartphones - as almost 50 percent of our customers are now doing - they start using the internet on the move for everything from maps to Facebook to researching products and services."

"As networks get faster, it encourages more people to do more online, on the move," she said.

Broadband customers climbed 11 percent to 1.6 million, while fibre-optic subscribers increased 46 percent to 5,400. Digital subscriber lines remain the most popular connection type, up 9 percent to 1.1 million.

Two Degrees Mobile, the newest entrant in the mobile phone market, has continued to grab sales from bigger rivals Telecom and Vodafone New Zealand, boosting its market share to 1 million customers, or 21 percent of the country's mobile market, in August.

Vodafone is still the biggest local carrier with 2.37 million customers.

Shares in Telecom, New Zealand's biggest listed company, rose 2.2 percent to $2.375. The stock has gained about 14 percent this year.


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