David Stuart

Gympie residents paying more to stay connected to the world

A NEW study has revealed Gympie residents are forking out 11% more than their Brisbane city counterparts to stay connected to the world.

Suncorp Bank's Cost of Being Digitally Savvy report shows people aged 18 and over living in the Wide Bay region spend about $2550 a year on technology and communication.

This is almost $300 more than someone living in Brisbane but less than northern Queenslanders who pay $3200 a year.

The research shows Wide Bay technology consumers spent more on average on laptops ($1094 v $636) and home entertainment ($990 v $510) in the past 12 months but spent less on average on digital streaming services ($160 v $202).

People surveyed - in the region from Gympie to Rockhampton and west to Longreach and the Burnett regions - also spent less time using desktops and home phones.

Across the country, families with children living at home are spending 50% more to stay digitally connected to the world than singles, couples without children and empty nesters.

The report found Australians aged 18 to 64 years collectively spent about $20 billion, or on average $2300 each, on technology and communication devices in the past 12 months. But the per person figure increased to almost $3000 for people with kids under 18 living at home, reflecting the high cost of extra devices and data charges.

Suncorp Bank regional manager Monique Reynolds said call and data plans for phones and internet were the largest expense for households and accounted for the greatest spending divide, costing $244 extra for families with children at home.

"The report found adults without children living at home spent an average of $2006 on technology and communication each year, while those costs ballooned to $2993 per adult if they have at least one child under their roof," she said.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released data last week showing there are now more than 2.63 million internet subscribers in Queensland, a 2% increase on the same period the year before.

The overall volume of data Australians downloaded in the three months ending December 31, 2014, increased 15%, compared with the three months ended June 30, 2014, to 1.1 million terabytes, or just over one exabyte.

There were 21 million mobile handset subscribers in Australia in the December quarter.

Ms Reynolds said the report revealed over one third of households did not budget for technology or wildly underestimated how much they would spend despite the extra costs associated with staying connected.

"Those who purchased technology ended up spending nearly three times what they planned to, with mobile phones, call and data plans, home entertainment systems and digital accessories such as headphones the biggest budget blowers," she said.

"Our growing thirst for 'on-demand' entertainment, streaming music, movies, radio and TV programs, is also costing us big time.

"A quarter of Australians who use these services have no idea how much they pay for them."

This report is the latest in Suncorp Bank's Cost of Living Series.

The series is designed to shine a light on how much Australians spend on common everyday activities and to promote the benefits of budgeting.

 

Other key findings

More than a quarter of Australians are unsure how much they spend on digital streaming services even though the survey data suggests it is about $245.

On average, Australians use their personal devices for 5.8 hours a day.

Australians living in urban areas tend to spend more on smart phones, mobile apps, digitally streaming music and entertainment and digital accessories, while those in rural areas generally spend more on plans for their home, mobile and smartphones.

In the past 12 months, men spent more than women on technology, at $2618 compared with $2143. But men appear to be better budgeters, with 71% of men budgeting for their spend compared to 61% for women.

The home (landline) phone may be on the way out.

While 56% of Australians retained a home phone plan in the past 12 months, only 47% intend to do so in the next 12 months.

Two thirds of those surveyed used their home phone for less than half an hour a day.

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