Telehealth and video conferencing surge during COVID-19

Since COVID-19 restrictions were introduced in March last year, more online Australians have increased their use of telehealth consultations and video conferencing/calling.

The data has been published in the ACMA’s latest interactive report, Communications and media in Australia: How we use the internet. It shows the ways Australians are using the internet, including devices we use to connect, how often we go online, and the activities and services we engage with.

The report reveals 99 per cent of Australians were online in 2020, up from 90 per cent in 2019. The biggest increase was by those aged 55 and over.

In 2020, more Australian internet users engaged in multiple online activities, some of which were driven by COVID-19 restrictions introduced in March. Four in five started or increased their participation in telehealth consultations. Meanwhile, 82 per cent started or increased video conferencing or calling and, 65% started or increased working online from home.

Around one in three Australians aged 55+ (29 per cent) started video conferencing or calling, compared to 21 per cent of those aged 18 to 54.

Australian adults are using many device types to access the internet. In 2020, 46 per cent of us accessed the internet using five or more different types of devices. Mobile phones and laptops were most commonly used, particularly among 18 to 54-year-olds.

In 2020, 73 per cent of Australians had a smart device connected to the internet (excluding computers, tablets and mobile phones). Nearly two-thirds of Australians aged 55 and over owned a smart device. Most popular were smart TVs, wearables and voice-controlled smart speakers.

Data downloads surged in the 3 months to June 2020, with more than 7 million terabytes (TB) downloaded over fixed networks and nearly 1 million TB using mobile devices.

The How we use the internet report is part of the Communications and media in Australia series. It is driven by the ACMA research program, which gathers evidence that informs our decisions as a regulator. This ensures we are up-to-date on market developments and consumer trends

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