Australia - Mobile Data - SMS - Overview and Statistics


The SMS service is one of the few remaining cash cows for mobile network operators. The cost of each message for customers is far higher than the cost to transmit the data across the network. As a result, SMS revenue has traditionally accounted for a large proportion of overall mobile data revenue. The ongoing evolution of technologies deployed in mobile networks, particularly with LTE as well as the development of OTT services carried over these networks, has resulted in a significant shift in mobile data use. As consumers are now able to make use of a wider range of high-end mobile data services, including mobile video-streaming, the proportion of SMS to overall revenue for operators is diminishing.

While the SMS service remains popular (given that the cost of a message is generally up to a third the cost of a phone call, while many recipients prefer the convenience of messages rather than the interruption of calls) there is also increasing competition from OTT services such as WhatsApp, Skype, Viber and built-in messaging services from the likes of Facebook and other social media providers.

The preponderance of bundled plans which include a large number of texts and voice minutes has also helped to retain the popularity of messaging, though at the expense of SMS revenue for operators. In addition to these pressures, the ACCC in May 2015 proposed that minute. The ACCC also proposed that the price charged by an MNO for an SMS message received should be reduced to 0.03 cents, effective from January 2016 to June 2019.

This report provides an overview of the mobile data SMS market in Australia, including SMS usage statistics, and analysis of key market trends.

For information on premium SMS, where messages are sent between content providers and subscribers, see separate report: Australia - Mobile Media - PSMS Portals and Apps.

Key developments:

Short Messaging Services (SMS), PSMS, MMS, regulations, iMessage, OTT services, increases in sexting causing concern, revenue

Companies mentioned in this report include:

Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, VHA.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Synopsis
  • 2. Background information on SMS
  • 3. Regulatory measures
  • 4. SMS market overview
    • 4.1 Mobile network operators – a brief look
    • 4.2 Forecasts and analysis
    • 4.3 SMS versus instant messaging
    • 4.4 SMS regulation
    • 4.5 Reporting spam SMS
    • 4.6 SMS technology not safe
  • 5. Overview of SMS services in Australia
    • 5.1 Background information
    • 5.2 SMS advertising
    • 5.3 Business SMS
  • 6. Usage statistics
    • 6.1 Analysis of market trends
    • 6.2 Statistical trends
  • 7. Premium SMS (PSMS) (separate report)
  • 8. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Estimated numbers of SMS sent – 2003 - 2015
  • Table 2 – Number of Telstra sent SMSs – 2005 - 2015
  • Table 3 – Use of MMS and SMS services – 2011 - 2014

Focus Report profile

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