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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 technologies, download speed, state 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 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 hot-spots which provide internet access on a casual basis are excluded from the collection. The IAS is conducted biannually in respect of the end of June and December in each year and collects details on aspects of internet access services provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Australia. The survey is usually a reduced-scope collection from ISPs with more than 1,000 subscribers. However every three years for the June reference period, the IAS is a full census of all ISPs operating in Australia; this was the case for the June 2013 IAS.
The source of the IAS population frame is the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsmen (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 ISPs reported for the end of the reference period. The size categories are defined as follows:
|Size of ISP||Number of subscribers|
|Very small ISP||1-100|
|Small ISP||101 - 1,000|
|Medium ISP||1,001 - 10,000|
|Large ISP||10,001 - 100,000|
|Very large ISP||100,001 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. Every three years a full census of all Australian ISPs, including those with 1,000 or less subscribers, is conducted. This issue, in respect of June 2013, is a full census cycle.
This approach to the IAS provides frequent and timely data on key trends keeping resource usage and provider load to acceptable levels, particularly for the smaller ISPs.
Data are released approximately 3 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 the questionnaire, efficient operating procedures and systems, appropriate methodology and contact with providers to resolve anomalies. Response rates are generally very high 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 volumes of data downloaded is variable. For example, there may be differences in reporting of billable vs free content, downloads and uploads may not always be separable and ISPs may use recording systems that are not extracting data download information on an equivalent basis. 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.
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, e.g. dial-up replaced by broadband, higher access speeds 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 the count of ISPs from the IAS to other data sources.
The IAS covers the supply side of the internet market where the following ABS collections cover the demand side of the internet market and should not be directly compared:
Active subscribers are defined as subscribers having accounts with ISPs who have accessed the internet or paid for access to the internet as at the end of the reference period. Counts of subscribers are not the same as counts of people/organisations with internet access because subscribers may have accounts with more than one ISP. Conversely, a single ISP subscriber account may provide internet access (or email addresses) for multiple people/organisations, for example universities.
All available data from the IAS are released in web-based information and commentary, and datacubes 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 page under Topics @ a Glance 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.