Back in the summer of 2019, Deloitte published its mobile nation report for the year. It described Australia as a “truly mobile nation,” noting that smartphone penetration had exceeded 90 percent and that the first thing Australians reach for when leaving the house is their smartphone.
Looking back, we can cast a wry smile on their words. In 2019, little did any of us know what the following year had in store. As it turned out, Australians became more reliant on their smartphones to access the internet than we could have imagined.
Deloitte’s report comes out every three years, so the latest edition has just been published. It makes intriguing reading, as it shows smartphone penetration has continued to rise higher into the 90th percentile, meaning that realistically, practically everyone over the age of 14 owns one.
From 3G to 4G to 5G
Australia shut down its 2G network in 2018, and 3G will be going the same way over the next few months with a final shutdown tentatively expected around July or August 2024. But of course, it is what is coming that gets the headlines, not what is going.
Australia is third fastest in the world when it comes to the 5G rollout, in terms of 5G connected devices per capita. Only South Korea and Japan are faster. The potential reward for 5G readiness is significant. Deloitte predicts that Australian companies stand to benefit to the tune of $27 billion if adoption retains the same rate. All that money will be realized by improved productivity.
The problem is that maintaining that adoption rate is far from guaranteed. The signs are that the low hanging fruit has been picked, and a slowdown will see Australia drop from third to around ninth in the list due to some businesses showing reluctance to adopt.
Slightly surprisingly, given Australia’s tech-ready reputation, 59 percent of the businesses Deloitte spoke to have no strategy in place for 5G adoption and 30 percent had no intention to implement 5G at all. The latter seems a strange stance to take, given that we can see from history that while 4G not go anywhere any time soon, it will not be around forever either.
5g impact on gaming from connected sports games to casinos
It is not just businesses that are switching from 4G. The impact on Australian individuals will be profound, too. Playing games online has become a pastime for all demographics and ages. Last year, Australian gamers invested about $2.5 billion into the hobby, significantly more than they spent on movies and music.
About a third of Australians upgrade their phone every two years, and even for those who typically wait longer, 5G compatibility is a good reason to do it. Some might question that assertion – sure, millions play games using their mobiles every day, but if it is just a game like Crossey road or Words With Friends (two of the most downloaded mobile games in Australia), you are forced to wonder what difference 5G will really make.
The answer is that while these are the most popular games, few play them exclusively. People also meet up remotely to face off against one another in real time at sports games like FIFA mobile and battle arenas such as PUBG mobile. The reduced latency of 5G makes this vastly more doable than it was under 4G, where the signal could break down, pages hang and the whole experience is adversely affected.
Then there is the Australian fascination with gambling sites. The number of Australians using their smartphones for gambling rose by more than 50 percent between 2020 and 2022, and it continues to rise. Last year it was worth $4.8 billion, roughly 20 percent of the overall gambling market. This has led to a rise in both the number of mobile casino platforms plying their trade to the Australian market and in the variety of gambling games they offer. Casino Aus provides an interesting snapshot of this at https://www.casinoaus.net/mobile-casinos/, but in short, there are similar dynamics at play among Australia’s online casino players as there are in the broader gaming community.
The most popular casino games among Australians are pokies and the advantages of playing these in 5G are negligible. However, casinos are tempting punters with live games that use more bandwidth, such as blackjack or roulette games hosted in real time by a real human croupier with a webcam. This sort of live stream will certainly be more reliable when delivered on a 5G network to a compatible device.
Mobile first is the Australian way
For both business and pleasure, Australia is hugely reliant on its mobile network. 5G will strengthen connectivity, improving gaming experiences and delivering the means for improved productivity for businesses. It will be intriguing to see what Deloitte’s mobile nation report for 2025 will have to say.