Australian Bureau of Statistics
Internet Activity Survey
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Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are the main avenue of internet access for households and businesses. Hence, there is interest in statistics on the nature and growth of the ISP industry, characteristics and location of customers, and related telecommunications infrastructure. As the ISP industry is dynamic and continually evolving, there is also interest in a time series which measures changes to the industry and technologies. The Internet Activity Survey (IAS) is designed to meet these needs.
Key users of this data are: the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC); the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA); the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE); and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which utilise IAS data for international comparisons. An ongoing relationship with these key users allows the ABS to ensure their requirements are met by the IAS.
The scope of the collection is all resident Australian ISPs (i.e. all businesses that supply internet connectivity services to individuals, businesses and other organisations). The ABS derives the population from a list of ISPs registered with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.
Organisations that provide internet access on a casual basis are excluded from the scope of the survey population. Examples of these types of organisations include:
Most IAS survey cycles are conducted with a limited scope format. It is expected that the ABS will conduct a full census cycle at least every three years, with the last census conducted in respect of the June cycle 2010. Details of the reduced scope and census cycles are as follows:
All Australian ISPs are surveyed in a census cycle. One of two form types is sent to each ISP depending on the ISP's total number of subscribers.
Only Australian ISPs with more than 1,000 subscribers are surveyed in a limited scope cycle. These ISPs are sent a long form which asks all questions and covers all data items (i.e. type of subscriber, access technology, download speed, mobile handset internet subscribers, volume of data downloaded, location of subscriber, and other services offered).
This approach to the IAS scope provides frequent and timely data on key trends, while keeping resource usage and provider load to acceptable levels, particularly for small ISPs..
Following the review, the collection frequency of a census collection reduced to annual from September 2006. However, a subset of the population (i.e. those ISPs with more than 10,000 active subscribers) were surveyed in the March cycle so as to continue to collect frequent data on key industry trends.
In response to the OECD's need for more timely data, another review was undertaken in August 2007. An outcome of this review was to change the collection reference cycles from March and September to June and December. This commenced in December 2007, when the December cycle became the census of ISPs and the June cycle the limited scope collection where data was obtained only from those ISPs with more than 10,000 subscribers.
A further change was made in June 2009, when the collection timing changed to a biannual collection, with both the June and December collections covering only ISPs with more than 1,000 subscribers. This represents a more efficient use of resources, as the ISPs with less than 1,000 subscribers accounted for 71% of ISPs but contributed less than 1% to aggregate data for June cycle 2010. It is anticipated that a census cycle will be conducted at least every three years.
Prior to December 2009, IAS excluded internet subscribers via mobile handsets. In December 2009, based on a change in OECD methodology, the IAS broadened the definition of mobile wireless subscribers to include mobile handset internet users. This was to facilitate international comparisons and to provide statistics to key users on a rapidly growing internet technology in Australia. These changes were made in consultation with key users and providers. Data on internet subscribers via mobile handsets were collected in December 2009 but were not published due to provider reporting issues. In June 2010, the IAS published its first set of statistics on numbers of internet subscribers via mobile handsets and volumes of data downloaded by these subscribers. Data was presented in experimental form as an appendix. Since December 2010, data has been included in the main body of the IAS release. So as to retain the original time series, mobile handset subscribers are published separately from other IAS data.
The frequency of the collection provides an indication of the growth in the number of Australian households and businesses obtaining access to the internet. In addition, the IAS indicates movements in the type of internet technology accessed in Australia.
Other classifications used, including type of access technology and access speed ranges, have been developed in consultation with key providers and users of IAS data and are regularly reviewed to ensure they remain current.
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This page last updated 16 April 2014