8153.0 - Internet Activity, Australia, Dec 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/04/2011   
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1 This release presents results from the Internet Activity Survey (IAS) conducted in respect of the three months ended 31 December 2010.


2 The December 2010 IAS covers Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who operated in Australia as at 31 December 2010. ISPs are defined as businesses that supply internet connectivity and access services to individuals, households, businesses, government and other organisations. Libraries, internet kiosks, internet cafes and hot-spots which provide internet access on a casual basis are excluded from the survey population.

3 The source of the IAS population frame is a lists of ISPs from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), with which ISPs are required to register. Using this list as a basis, the ABS maintains its own confidential list of ISPs. The TIO register may contain the following organisations that are out of scope or counted differently on the IAS: those that are no longer operating as ISPs, including wholesalers and web hosting ISPs only; those where there is common ownership and, therefore reporting is consolidated for these ISPs on the IAS; and other types of organisations that are required to register with the TIO (e.g. Telecommunications companies which do not provide ISP services).

4 The reference periods for this collection are June and December to align with international reporting of broadband statistics by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The IAS generally includes information reported by all ISPs operating in Australia, with more than 1,000 active subscribers, as at 30 June and 31 December. At least every three years, the ABS conducts a full census of all Australian ISPs, including those with 1,000 or less active subscribers. The last census of all ISPs was conducted in June 2010. The census is conducted as an on-line survey of all ISPs, with ISPs who have 1,000 or less active subscribers completing only a subset of questions. The overall contribution of these smaller ISPs was less than 1% of all subscribers for the June 2010 IAS, with minimal contribution to any other data released. This approach to the IAS provides frequent and timely data on key trends while keeping resource usage and provider load to acceptable levels, particularly for smaller ISPs.

5 While mobile wireless internet connections using a datacard, dongle, USB modem or tablet SIM card have been collected by the IAS for some time now, internet connections via a mobile handset were included in the scope of this survey for the first time in December 2009. The data were not released as it was found that providers needed more time to adapt their reporting systems to the new requirements. For the June 2010 IAS, this issue was resolved and the mobile handset data were published in Appendix 1. For December 2010, data for mobile handsets are reported in the Main Features.


6 Active subscribers are defined as subscribers that have an internet connection with an ISP on the last day of the reference period. ABS subscriber statistics measure the number of 'subscriber lines' rather than the number of 'users' and therefore, counts of subscribers are not the same as counts of people/organisations with internet access. This is because some subscribers may have accounts with more than one ISP or multiple accounts with a single ISP. Conversely, there are single ISP subscriber accounts that provide internet access for multiple people/organisations (e.g. universities).


7 The unit for which statistics are reported in the IAS is the legal entity providing internet access.

8 ISPs in the IAS have been classified by size according to the number of subscribers that ISPs reported at the end of the reference period. The size categories are defined as follows:

Size of ISPDefinition of Size
no. of subscribers)
Very small ISP1-100
Small ISP101-1,000
Medium ISP1,001-10,000
Large ISP10,001-100,000
Very large ISP100,001 or more


9 This release relates to information for the quarter ended 31 December 2010


10 The response rate for the December 2010 IAS was 96.1%.


11 Where data were missing or required clarification, respondents were contacted in the first instance. When necessary, missing data were imputed based on historical data collected.


12 As the IAS does not have a sample component, the data are not subject to sampling variability. However, other inaccuracies, collectively referred to as non-sampling errors, may affect the data. These non-sampling errors may arise from a number of sources, including:
  • errors in the reporting of data by respondents;
  • errors in capturing or processing of data;
  • estimation for missing or misreported data; and
  • definition and classification errors.

13 Every effort has been made to reduce non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design and testing of questionnaires, efficient operating procedures and systems, appropriate methodology, and contact with providers to resolve anomalies. Errors in previous cycles data are only revised where they have a significant impact on the data released.

14 The volume of data downloaded presented should only be considered as an indicative measure of internet activity during the reference period and therefore should be used with caution.

15 Some ISPs provide proportions in lieu of actual state subscriber numbers. This data therefore have an element of estimation and should be used with caution.

16 A reporting error identified in the June quarter 2010 resulted in data being revised for the December quarter 2009 IAS. Due to a change in the computer systems used to process the IAS, the ABS is unable to revise data prior to this. Fixed wireless subscribers is the only data item significantly impacted by this revision and readers are advised to use the December quarter 2008 and June quarter 2009 figures with caution.


17 A glossary of the terms used in this release can be found under the @ a Glance pages for Innovation, Science and Technology.


18 The ABS releases draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated. Without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

19 In particular, the ABS acknowledges the assistance of the TIO in providing regular lists of registered ISPs.


20 Other ABS releases on information technology and telecommunications in Australia are:


21 As well as the statistics included in this and related releases, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request and for a charge. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.


22 For further details on the Internet Activity Survey please see Directory of Statistical Sources by Topic.


23 Information about ABS activities in the field of information technology statistics is available from the Innovation, Science and Technology @ a Glance pages in the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>.