5259.0 - Australian National Accounts: Information and Communication Technology Satellite Account, 2002-03  
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The classifications used in the supply and use tables of the ASNA are consistent with the standard classifications used throughout ABS publications - ANZSIC for industries, and the Australian and New Zealand Standard Product Classification (ANZSPC) for products. These are not entirely appropriate for an ICT satellite account and, in particular, the 1993 version of the ANZSIC (used in the satellite account) was developed when there was less focus on 'new economy' activities than there is today. Consequently, there is no grouping for ICT activities, and some new products and industries have emerged that did not exist or were relatively unimportant when this version of ANZSIC was developed. ANZSIC was recently reviewed and an updated version was released on 28 February 2006.

For ABS business collections relating to ICT statistics, the relevant ANZSIC industry classes are combined into an 'alternative industry view' for ICT industries. The satellite account incorporates and extends this concept of an alternative industry view.


The scope of the ICT satellite account is effectively determined by the range of products (goods and services) defined as 'ICT'. The Working Party on Indicators for the Information Society convened by the OECD has produced a draft 'Classification of ICT Goods' and is working on a classification of ICT services. The ABS had significant input into this work and the classification used by the ABS in ICTIS is broadly consistent with, but not identical to the OECD classification as far as it relates to goods. The OECD definition included a broader range of goods than the Australian definition. The Australian definition only includes ICT goods if they are able to be networked or are components of goods that can be networked. It also excludes a range of medical, scientific and audio visual equipment.

A challenging aspect for any statistical classification is to preserve continuity and still remain contemporary. This is especially so for ICT where new goods and services emerge rapidly. The ABS undertakes a complete review of its ICT product definition every two years to ensure it remains up-to-date. Australia also continues to work with the international statistical community (through the OECD) toward international consensus on ICT product classification issues.

The products in-scope of the satellite account are shown in Appendix 3 and, with some exceptions, is consistent with the definition of ICT products in-scope of ICTIS 2002-03. The satellite account aims to be even more comprehensive, so some additional products were added (primarily computer software produced on own account, construction of telecommunication facilities on own-account and margins relating to the retailing of ICT goods).

The list of ICT products shown in Appendix 3 essentially covers computers, communication equipment, and the services that facilitate the use of such equipment. However, process control computers and other equipment, such as robots and scientific and health equipment, are excluded since the presence of microprocessors is predominantly for the control or setting of functions. Simple calculating devices are also excluded, along with television and radio receivers.

One area of conjecture is the treatment of construction activity undertaken by or on behalf of telecommunication service providers. A substantial proportion of telecommunications equipment is purchased to be integrated within telecommunication structures such as transmission towers and telecommunication networks. The satellite account treats spending on construction activities which are integral to the operation of telecommunication equipment as part of ICT output, value added and gross fixed capital formation. In practice, this means that the following are included:

  • mobile phone, radio, television, microwave and radar transmission towers, telephone lines and underground cables, coaxial cables
  • the full value of work done on the design and construction of telecommunication networks, including the purchase of equipment which is installed as an integral part of the network.

An alternative would have been to include only the ICT equipment and to treat the construction activity as a building and construction product outside the scope of ICT output, value added and gross fixed capital formation. This would be more in keeping with the common conception of the nature of ICT products. It can be difficult to draw the boundary and in this case the deciding factor is that the construction activity creates a structure that typically can only be used for telecommunication purposes. In the ASNA, the value of this activity is included with the communication services industry.

While the list of ICT products in Appendix 3 represents the scope of the ICT satellite account, it has not been possible to collect or present data at this level of detail. In general, the main categories of ICT products used in the satellite account are:

  • Computer hardware
  • Telecommunication assets
  • Computer software - packaged
  • Computer software - customised
  • Computer software - own account
  • Computer services
  • Telecommunication services
  • Wholesale and retail trade margins


Wholesale and retail margins on ICT products are subject to a special treatment in supply and use methodology. While the margins are listed as service products in their own right, they also form part of the value of the underlying good as far as the purchaser of the good is concerned. Supply and use tables distinguish between the 'basic price' and the 'purchasers' price' of products. The basic price is relevant to the producer or the importer of the ICT good and represents the factory gate or landed value of an ICT product such as a computer. Trade and transport margins and taxes on products (such as GST) must be added to get to the value paid by the purchaser.

Satellite account tables relating to the production, gross value added and import of ICT products are expressed at basic prices and distribution margins are treated as separate products. However, tables relating to investment or consumption of ICT products are expressed at purchasers' prices, so the distribution margins become incorporated (along with product taxes) in the overall value of the underlying product.


The scope of 'ICT industries' relates closely to the set of ICT products previously defined. ANZSIC, the industry classification used in the ASNA, is a 'statistical units' based classification. Individual entities (interpreted widely to include government departments and non-profit institutions) are assigned an appropriate industry category on the basis of their predominant activity. For example, a business providing predominantly communication services would be classified to the communication services industry. It may also produce secondary products other than communication services and these would also be included in the output of the communication services industry. Equally, some businesses may produce communication services as a secondary activity that would be reflected in the output of the industry to which its primary activity is classified. Although industry data based on a units approach has some analytical disadvantages, its major advantage is that it accords with real world businesses and the data they can provide to statistical agencies.


ICTIS 2002-03 is a major data source for the satellite account and covers the main industries involved in the production and distribution of ICT goods in Australia. It is a units based view as described above and its scope is broadly consistent but not identical with the OECD ICT Sector definition. As described in the section on ICT products, the Australian definition only includes ICT products if they are able to be networked or are components of products that can be networked. Units that manufacture or distribute products such as industrial process equipment are included in the OECD classification but excluded from the ABS classification. The ABS classification takes Australian circumstances into consideration and has been agreed to by major policy and industry organisations in Australia for use in the regular ICT surveys.

The list below describes the ANZSIC classes in scope of the ICTIS collection.

      ABS Classification of ICT Industries (by ANZSIC Class) - as used in ICTIS
          Class 2841 Computer and business machine manufacturing
          Class 2842 Telecommunication, broadcasting and transceiving equipment manufacturing
          Class 2849 Electronic equipment manufacturing n.e.c.
          Class 2852 Electric cable and wire manufacturing
          Class 4613 Computer wholesaling
          Class 4614 Business machine wholesaling n.e.c.
          Class 4615 Electrical and electronic equipment wholesaling n.e.c.
          Class 7120 Telecommunication services
          Class 7831 Data processing services
          Class 7832 Information storage and retrieval services
          Class 7833 Computer maintenance services
          Class 7834 Computer consultancy services.

The recorded media manufacturing and publishing industry (ANZSIC 2430) has been excluded from the classification of ICT industries as used by ICTIS because it primarily engages in the reproduction of content, rather than carrying out functions of information processing and/or telecommunication. Nevertheless, it does have significant income relating to the production of packaged software and data are therefore collected in ICTIS, but shown separately from the ICT industries. In the satellite account it is included in the economy-wide ICT industry (explained below).


Within these 'ICTIS industries', businesses are further classified as either ICT specialists or non-specialists. This affects some businesses in industries in the ICT Manufacturing and Wholesale trade industry groupings only. Businesses in these industries are defined as ICT specialists if more than 50 percent of their income is derived from production of ICT outputs. Businesses in the other ANZSIC classes mentioned above are defined as ICT specialists regardless of the source of their income.


An alternative view is to group all similar activities together as an 'industry', regardless of whether the ICT products are produced as primary activities of businesses that are commonly thought of ICT producers, or as secondary activities of businesses that are not regarded as ICT producers. For example, ICT products such as software produced as a secondary activity by businesses (and government organisations) outside the ICT industries would be included. Likewise, non-ICT products produced by ICT specialist industries would be excluded. This leads to a wider definition of the 'ICT industry'. The disadvantage of this view is that estimates of ICT gross value added on this basis require use of assumptions because it is not possible to collect all the required information on the costs of producing ICT products or the value of output.

This wider activity concept of an ICT 'industry' is clearer in practice where it involves actual sales of ICT products. Defining the boundary becomes more complicated where ICT goods and services are produced in-house for own use. For example, a bank (classified to the financial services industry) may use its own employees to provide help desk services, data processing, system maintenance and software development, etc., or it may purchase these services from other businesses. Where these services are purchased, and regardless of the source of the purchase, they become part of the economy-wide ICT industry for inclusion in the satellite account. In the national accounts, goods and services produced for own use are not regarded as part of output where they are consumed as part of the process of producing other goods and services. In that case their value is reflected in the other outputs of the business, in this example financial services. However, where the in-house ICT products are in the nature of gross fixed capital formation, for example software development, they are included as products in their own right in the national accounts.

In principle, the scope of the ICT satellite account could conceivably be defined to include all ICT activity including in-house activity. Using the above example of a bank, help desk activities could be separately valued and included as part of ICT output and value added. The services would be deemed as being both 'sold' and then 'purchased' by the bank for input to the production of financial services. However, this quickly becomes an artificial construct. Businesses make different decisions about which functions to outsource and which to provide in-house across a whole range of activities, including accounting, payroll, transport, storage, recruitment and so on. In practice, it is not possible to collect the information required or to satisfactorily value such activities provided in-house.

An 'economy-wide' scope is adopted in the satellite account. However, ICT products produced in-house for own use are excluded from the output and use of ICT products, apart from in-house production of ICT capital goods (software and telecommunication assets). A schematic presentation is shown below.

Diagram: Schedule of ICT-producing industry

This diagram shows a hierachy of ICT-producing industries relevant to ABS surveys. The 'Economy-wide ICT Industry' view used in the satellite account includes all entities involved in ICT production. However, only production of ICT products is in scope of the satellite account and production of non-ICT products is excluded.


The satellite account uses employment data from two sources: ICTIS and the ABS Labour Force Survey (LFS). LFS data include those used in a feature article 'Employment in Information and Communication Technology (ICT)' as published in the January 2005 edition of Australian Labour Market Statistics (cat. no. 6105.0). LFS is a household-based survey. While LFS is the preferred source of employment data, the model used to estimate production of own account software requires an estimate of workers engaged in production of customised software and ICTIS is the data source best able to satisfy this need. Consequently, the satellite account has used both LFS and ICTIS employment data.

Both LFS and ICTIS data relate to 'employment numbers' which equates to 'employed persons'. Employed persons include both employees and the self-employed - the latter is made up of employers, own account workers and contributing family workers.

ABS collections use Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) Second Edition (cat. no. 1220.0) to classify occupations according to skill level and skill specialisation.

The LFS-based numbers for 'ICT employment' relate to the following ASCO classes:

      1224 Information technology managers
      2231 Computing Professionals
      3294 Computing support technicians

ASCO class 2231 includes the following types of workers:
      Systems managers
      Systems designers
      Software designers
      Applications and analyst programmers
      Systems programmers
      Computer systems auditors
      Computing professionals nec (e.g., computer analyst, database analyst, LAN controller)

ICTIS 2002-03 collected 'ICT employment', which includes the following types of workers but excludes data entry and call centre staff:
      Information technology managers
      Electronics engineers
      Systems managers and administrators
      Systems analysts, designers and programmers
      Applications and analyst programmers
      Computer and communications technicians
      Help desk staff

Overall, a broadly similar concept of 'ICT employment' applies in ICTIS and LFS data.