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05 July 2017

Australia is being held back by slow, expensive broadband connections

Almost 9 in every 10 Australians use smartphones but the cost and speed of broadband internet connections is holding us back. Picture: Adam Yip/The Daily Telegraph

WE’RE tech savvy … but slow.

Australians lag behind New Zealand and Iceland when it comes to being “connected”.

Because while we’re among the world’s most prolific technology users, embracing everything from smartphones to smart fridges, expensive and slow broadband connections are holding us back.

The lack of world-class internet connections pushed Australia’s “digital readiness” down beneath the likes of New Zealand and Iceland, according to a new report from Ernst and Young.

This is despite Australians embracing new trends including music and TV streaming, and adopting more devices than ever.

Australians are some of the world’s biggest technology users, particularly when it comes to smartphones. Picture: iStock

Australians are some of the world’s biggest technology users, particularly when it comes to smartphones. Picture: iStockSource:istock

The Digital Australia: Station of the Nation report, which surveyed more than 1551 people and 131 “digital opinion leaders,” placed Australia in 18th spot for digital readiness worldwide — falling two places from last year.

READ MORE: Australia languishes in 50th spot for download speeds

While our use of mobile internet connections boosted Australia’s ranking, it was “brought down by the cost of fixed broadband” connections, the report found, and slow download speeds.

“As the world’s 13th largest mixed-market economy, boasting an AAA rating from all three global rating agencies, Australia should be further up the global digital rankings,” the report said.

“However, Australia remains caught in the shadow of other advanced nations.”

The cost of Australian broadband connections was rated at 57th out of 139 countries, while download speeds put the country in 50th spot, well behind other nations in Asia Pacific.

The report found more people — 29 per cent — were unhappy with the slower than expected speed of their NBN connection. Picture: Supplied

The report found more people — 29 per cent — were unhappy with the slower than expected speed of their NBN connection. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

As an example, internet users in South Korea could download a high-definition film in 23 minutes, on average, but it would take almost an hour for Australians.

While Australia’s size and relatively small population may have played a part in its broadband setbacks, the report found, “the reality is that the world won’t wait and the barriers aren’t relevant in a competitive global market”.

Despite the below-average broadband report card, Australians are keen technology adopters, it found, with “one of the highest levels of smartphone usage in the world” at 88 per cent, half using a tablet or e-book reader, and three per cent owning drones.

Online music and TV services were also skyrocketing in popularity, with music-streaming up 90 per cent over the past year, and TV streaming used by 28 per cent of the population.

On average, Australians spent $3426 per year on digital technology, the report found, including $978 on hardware.

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