Telecommunication Industry Navigating COVID-19
Despite warnings from the International Monetary Fund that Australia’s economy could shrink by 4.5% this year as a result of COVID-19, Australia’s telecommunication industry has continued to grow.
Australia’s telecommunication Industry
Australia’s telecommunications industry is made up of organisations who provide goods related to person-to-person communication. This includes products and services related to telephones, television, radio, mobile devices and the internet.
Data from the government’s Labour Market Information Portal shows Australia’s telecommunications industry is huge, as it employs around 1.5% of Australia’s working population. That includes approximately 194,400 people Australia-wide.
Growth of the telecommunication industry before COVID-19
Australia’s telecommunications industry is one part of the TMT sector, which includes telecommunications, media and technology.
The TMT sector has been steadily growing since the introduction of the telegraph network in 1859. This growth then exploded in the 20th century with the introduction of business technology, as inventions like the fax machine, the telephone, computers and the internet changed how Australian businesses operate. Since 2017, spending on the TMT sector increased by 4% nationwide - reaching $94 billion in 2019.
Before COVD-19, Australia’s telecommunications industry was focused around two key pieces of infrastructure: the National Broadband Network (NBN) and the potential of the 5G network.
How COVID-19 impacted Australia’s telecommunication industry
While the NBN and the 5G network remain a key focus of the industry, COVID-19 accelerated the growth of the telecommunications industry in three ways. This includes:
Increasing demand for telecommunications equipment
As Australian businesses were forced online by COVD-19 precautions, investment in technology increased by 3.6%. This is despite predictions in 2019 that estimated businesses would spend less on technology, causing the industry to drop 2.8% in 2020.
The demand for telecommunications equipment also grew in sectors like healthcare. As healthcare organisations sought to reduce the number of in-person patients they saw, telehealth exploded. By between the 13th of March and the 9th of September, over 10.4 million Australians had used telehealth services, with 29.6 million services being provided through medicare.
Telecommunications solutions were also used in pharmacies and doctors offices as a result of the government’s Electronic Prescribing Scheme, which allowed doctors to send prescriptions directly to pharmacies.
As a result of the rise in telehealth and electronic prescribing, the healthcare industry is expected to increase spending on technology by 8.2% in 2021.
Increasing government interest in the telecommunications industry
COVID-19 didn’t just increase the amount businesses spend on technology - it made Australians aware of how important the telecommunication industry is. Aside from investing in telehealth and the electronic prescribing scheme, Australia’s government is also investing $224.9 million into navigation and GPS infrastructure and $29.2 million into Australia’s growing 5G network.
According to a pre-budget submission from August, Professionals Australia considers Australia’s technology industry a crucial part of the economy as it contributes 8% to our GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Around 50% of the nation’s business productivity is also due to technology. As the telecommunication industry grows, the Australian government expects to invest in the industry further.
Increasing digital adoption in sales
While Australian businesses were rapidly embracing digital solutions pre-COVID-19, lockdown measures caused the rate of online sales to explode. Australia-wide, this forced many businesses to transition to online ordering and payment systems.
While 37.1% of Australian businesses were already accepting online orders, Australia Post believes online shopping will account for 15% of all retail spending by the end of 2020. This puts Australia ahead of predictions made by the Australia Post last year, which estimated 16 - 20% of retail sales would be made online by 2025.
Australian organisations have also switched to online pre-sales processes, with businesses increasingly adopting digital customer service solutions like live chat services and video conference sales appointments. As the pandemic normalised online shopping, we can expect to see more Australians shopping online in future.
What COVID-19 taught Australia about telecommunications
COVID-19 fundamentally changed how the telecommunication industry impacts Australia’s economy, shifting how businesses communicate and carry-out everyday business processes. This resulted in Australia learning three key lessons about telecommunications.
#1. The teleworking revolution is here to stay
Dependence on teleworking during quarantine has led Australians to realise that work can be done from anywhere.
Back in 2013, a telework trial conducted by the Australian Public Service Commission showed that less than 24% of Australians were completing some of their working hours at home. Right before the pandemic, research from the University of Sydney showed this number had risen to 45%. Research now shows that up to 60% of Australians would prefer to continue work from home part-time - meaning the teleworking revolution is here to stay.
As businesses across Australia implement work-from-home policies, investment in the telecommunications industry will continue to explode as the habits of Australia’s working population change.
#2. Businesses must invest in telecommunications
If the Zoom revolution has taught us anything, it’s that all Australian businesses need to embrace telecommunications as part of their business toolbox. Over 88% of Australian businesses went remote during quarantine, relying on telecommunication software like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype to hold meetings.
As the remote work revolution continues, Australian businesses need to invest in telecommunication options that don’t rely on office-bound equipment - like VoIP phones and online faxing.
#3. Digitization is essential
The disruptions to the economy throughout 2020 have shown that Australian businesses can no longer operate without embracing digitization. When businesses digitize, they upgrade outdated business processes to digital ones.
As 95.4% of businesses have internet access, fax machines are a great example of digitisation. Physical fax machines are slow, expensive and inefficient - but many businesses still need to fax. When a business switches to online faxing, they can fax from a computer, tablet or smartphone in seconds, removing the hassle that comes with faxing.
When embracing digitisation, many businesses choose to partner with Australia’s leading fax provider: eFax. eFax’s unique online fax service helps Australian businesses use a secure and reliable fax solution that keeps your faxes safe with cloud-based storage.
eFax is NBN compatible, making it a futureproof partner for your business. While many Australian businesses lose their fax service when switching to NBN, eFax helps customers keep faxing worry-free. eFax’s fax experts can get you connected quickly, helping you keep your NBN fax number from day one.
eFax is a passionate supporter of Australian businesses and serves over 11 million happy customers worldwide.
If you’d like to experience the eFax difference, start a 30-day free trial or call 1800 283 361 for more information.