8153.0 - Internet Activity, Australia, Dec 2011 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/03/2012   
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For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


The Internet Activity Survey (IAS) provides key statistics on the supply of internet services and the participation of Australians in internet activities, including subscriber numbers by access technology, download speed, state or territory and type of subscriber, and volume of data downloaded. The results are utilised by analysts in both the private and public sectors and are used in international comparisons of broadband penetration.

The IAS covers all in-scope, Australian based Internet Service Providers (ISPs) at the end of the reference period. 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 hotspots which provide internet access on a casual basis are excluded from the collection population.

The source of the IAS population frame is a list of ISPs from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), with which ISPs are required to register.

The unit for which statistics are reported in the IAS is the legal entity providing internet access. ISPs in the IAS have been classified by size according to the number of subscribers that ISPs reported for 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


The IAS includes information reported by all ISPs operating in Australia, with more than 1,000 active subscribers, as at 31 December and 30 June. At least every three years, the ABS conducts a full census of all Australian ISPs, including those with 1,000 or less subscribers. A full census was conducted for the June 2010 IAS. 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 the smaller ISPs.

Data are released approximately three months after the end of the reference period.


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 data;
  • estimation for missing or misreported data; and,
  • definition and classification errors.

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. Response rates are generally very high for the IAS which in turn increases the accuracy and level of the data which can be released for users. Thorough editing of the data received is undertaken to ensure that the integrity of the collection is upheld.

The ability of ISPs to report the volume of data downloaded is variable. Data presented for this item should only be considered as an indicative measure of internet activity during the reference period and therefore should be used with caution.

Some ISPs provide proportions in lieu of actual state subscriber numbers. This data therefore has an element of estimation and should be used with caution. Similarly, data for mobile handset subscribers is split by dedicated data subscriptions and all other active standard subscriptions. Not all ISPs keep accurate records of this disaggregation, therefore this data also has an element of estimation and should be used with caution. This does not impact on the accuracy of the mobile handset subscriber numbers at the total level.


Content of the IAS has evolved continuously since the commencement of the survey in 2001, so data items are not always comparable over time. This has mainly been due to the take up of new technologies which previously did not exist (for example, dial-up replaced by broadband, higher download speeds accessed, and the emergence of mobile wireless access technology).

The number of ISPs reporting to the IAS does not necessarily equal the number of ISPs operating in Australia at the end of the reference period. Some ISPs have common ownership and as such provide data for all subsidiary ISPs on the one survey form. This should be taken into consideration when comparing counts of ISPs from the IAS to other data sources.

The IAS covers the supply side of the internet market, whereas the following ABS collections cover the demand side of the internet market and should not be directly compared:


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).


All available data from the IAS are released in data cubes on the ABS website.

For links to data and publications relating to internet activity and information and technology statistics please see the Innovation, Science and Technology @ a Glance pages in the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>.

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.