Data download grows with phone addiction

IF YOU have noticed more people than ever are wandering around distracted, noses buried in a smartphone, you are right.

Australians' intensifying addiction to phones as an internet source has been underlined by statistics showing the amount of data downloaded skyrocketed by a third in just six months.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found 32 per cent more information was downloaded on phones between April and June this year than for the last three months last year. For computers, data downloaded in the same period rose 20 per cent.

Across Australia there are more than 16 million mobile handsets in use - a 7 per cent increase compared with the end of last year.

An Australian Communications Consumer Action Network spokeswoman, Elise Davidson, said more than half the population had a smartphone.

''That's growing quickly,'' she said. ''The amount of data being downloaded on mobile handsets is increasing exponentially.''

According to research by Google, Australians have the second-highest per capita uptake of smartphones in the world behind Singapore.

Increasingly, smartphones are running on faster 4G networks.

In Australia, 4G networks are known as LTE or Long Term Evolution, and allow access to much faster download speeds - basically, more data in less time.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority issued a warning last month about the risk of bill shock - consumers having to pay more than they expected due to the speed at which 4G networks download data.

Brent Coker, a lecturer in internet marketing at Melbourne University, said the new statistics reflected a shift in how often people reach for their phones.

''Whenever there's a moment in time when we are not doing anything … we pull out our phone and check it quickly,'' he said.

Complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman from people hit by more expensive bills than expected rose by 120 per cent last year.

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