The telecommunication services industry is made up of businesses mainly providing telecommunication services to the public by wire, cable or radio. The primary activities of the industry include cable and communication channel services, network communication services, operation of radio relay stations, satellite communication services, telecommunications, telephone services, teleprinter and telex services, and operation of television relay stations.
The industry excludes businesses which manufacture telecommunications equipment, businesses engaged in cable laying and transmission line construction, and those providing secretarial services (e.g. personalised telephone answering services or message delivery services). Also, the ABS classifies the provision of radio and television services (as distinct from the operation of radio and television relay stations) as part of the Cultural and Recreational Services Division of ANZSIC. Information on radio and television broadcasting, including the role of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Special Broadcasting Service and commercial radio and television services, as well as the Australian Broadcasting Authority, is included in Culture and recreation.
Major changes have been occurring in the telecommunication services industry as a result of the 1997 legislative changes, particularly the deregulation of the telecommunications market and the introduction of competition. The Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cwlth) allows any person to provide a range of telecommunication services, provided they comply with the provisions of the Act. Providers may use telecommunications capacity acquired from a licensed carrier or, in defined circumstances, from non-carrier infrastructure, to supply a range of local or national telecommunication services to consumer and commercial markets. Service providers typically purchase network capacity from carriers at discounted rates. In theory this allows them to provide either similar services at competitive prices or a variety of value-adding services. These services include basic telephony services, mobile phone services, data and value-adding services, Internet services and other telecommunication services.
The number of licensed telecommunication carriers operating in Australia has increased from 3 at June 1997 to 68 at June 2001 and 83 at June 2002. At June 2001, there were 814 businesses operating in Australia whose predominant activity was providing telecommunication services, with 513 of these providing Internet services. These numbers exclude businesses for which telecommunication service provision was a minor part of their business operation. The next section, Internet activity, provides updated information on the number of ISPs, with an annual comparison from March quarter 2001 to March quarter 2002.
Table 24.2 shows summary indicators of the performance of the telecommunication services industry from surveys conducted by the ABS in 1996-97, 1998-99 and 2000-01. The growth in this industry is demonstrated by the increase in total income by 19% (or $5.1b) between 1998-99 and 2000-01, to reach over $31b. However, operating profit before tax declined by $0.6b or 11% between 1998-99 and 2000-01.
24.2 TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICES INDUSTRY(a), Summary indicators
|Businesses at 30 June|
|Employment at 30 June|
|Income from IT&T services|
|Operating profit before tax|
|(a) Excludes businesses for which telecommunication service provision was a minor part of their business operation.|
Note: IT&T - Information technology and telecommunications.
Source: Information Technology, Australia, 2000-01 (8126.0).