8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update (Newsletter), Dec 2002  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/01/2003   
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Note that ABS is introducing a change in terminology for this field of statistics. Previous terminology (Information Technology and Telecommunications - IT&T) is gradually being replaced by Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in line with more general changes in international and Australian usage. Even though there is a slight technical difference in meaning between the terms, they are generally understood to be synonymous.

2.1 Household Use of IT
2.2 Business Use of IT
2.3 Government Use of IT
2.4 Farm Use of IT
2.5 Internet Activity
2.6 Information Technology and Telecommunications Industries
2.7 ICT Regional Information
2.8 ICT Satellite Account Work

2.1 Household use of IT

The November quarter 2000 Population Survey Monitor (PSM) was the last PSM to be conducted by the ABS. As the PSM was the source of our Household Use of Information Technology (HUIT) data, these data will no longer be produced by the ABS on a quarterly basis.

For 2001, a HUIT module of questions was included in the Survey of Education and Training (now called the Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology - SETIT). HUIT results are expected to be released from SETIT in early 2003 (Cat. no. 8146.0). For 2002, HUIT questions were included in the new General Social Survey conducted by the ABS. Results are expected to be released about the middle of 2003 in Cat. no. 8146.0.

Main Features from catalogue 8146.0 can be found on the ABS web site.

2.2 Business use of IT

The ABS publication Business Use of Information Technology, Australia (Cat. no. 8129.0) presents details from the ABS Business Technology Survey. The latest results were released on 20 March 2002 in respect of the 2000-2001 financial year.

The Business Technology survey is an annual economy wide survey collecting information from approximately 12,000 private sector businesses about their use of computers, the Internet and the web. These businesses are randomly selected to represent all industries, with the exception of Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Education, Religious organisations and Private households employing people.

Results from the 2001-02 collection are due to be released in March 2003 and development for the 2002-03 survey is in progress.

Main Features from catalogue 8129.0 can be found on the ABS web site.

2.3 Government use of IT

The latest edition of the ABS publication Government Use of Information Technology, Australia (Cat. no. 8119.0) was released on 28 May 2002. This publication presented results, in respect of the 1999-2000 financial year, from an ABS survey on the use of information technology and telecommunications (IT&T) by government organisations. This was the third ABS survey of IT&T use by government, with the previous collections being conducted in respect of the 1993-94 and 1997-98 financial years. The 1999-2000 survey provided information on government expenditure on IT&T and IT employment. Development work for the 2002-03 survey is currently underway.

Main Features from catalogue 8119.0 can be found on the ABS web site.

2.4 Farm use of IT

Data relating to the use of computers and the Internet on farms are obtained from the ABS Agricultural Commodity Survey (ACS). The survey covers all farms with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5,000 or more. Results for 2000 were released in the ABS publication
Use of Information Technology on Farms, Australia (Cat. no. 8150.0) on 26 September 2001.

The next farm use of IT survey has been conducted in respect of 2002, with results due to be released about the middle of 2003.

Main Features from catalogue 8150.0 can be found on the ABS web site.2.5 Internet activity

On 18 September 2002, the ABS released the publication Internet Activity, Australia in respect of the March quarter 2002 (Cat. no. 8153.0). Following a review, the ABS has reduced the frequency of this collection from quarterly to six montlhly. It is now conducted in respect of September and March quarters each year.

Some of the key findings from the latest survey are:
  • The number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Australia decreased by 32 to 571 over the six month period to the end of March 2002, continuing the series of declines recorded since the end of September 2000 (when there were 718 ISPs).
  • There were 4.2 million Internet subscribers in Australia at the end of March 2002, a small decline (-43,000) on the number of subscribers at the end of September 2001. The fall in the number of subscribers can be accounted for by a large fall in subscribers with free access (-180,000).
  • ISPs provided 2,131 points of presence and 447,050 access lines across Australia at the end of March 2002. There were 7% fewer access lines than at the end of September 2001. On average, there were 9.5 subscribers per Internet access line at the end of March 2002.
  • There were 1,234 m megabytes (Mbs) of data downloaded by Internet subscribers during the March quarter 2002. This was nearly 3% higher than the volume downloaded during the September quarter 2001. An average of 290 Mbs of data per subscriber were downloaded during the March quarter 2002.
  • While there is a wide distribution of ISPs across Australia, capital cities accounted for 73% of subscribers and 75% of the access lines at the end of March 2002. There were, on average, 9.3 subscribers per access line in capital cities, downloading an average of 320 Mbs of data during the March quarter 2002. This compared to 9.9 subscribers per access line in other areas, downloading an average of 205 Mbs of data during the March quarter 2002.

Other details, including more information for states/territories and smaller regions, are shown in the Main Features, which can be found on the ABS web site.
2.6 Information technology and telecommunications industries

Results from the ABS survey on the production and distribution of information technology and telecommunications (IT&T) goods and services by Australian businesses in 2000-01 were released on 19 September 2002 in the ABS publication Information Technology, Australia (Cat. no. 8126.0). The publication also included IT&T import and export data and IT&T international trade in services data obtained from other sources. This is the fourth survey covering the IT&T sector with the third one being in respect of 1998-99.

Key findings from the latest publication show that the IT&T industry has undergone significant change over the two years to 2000-01, for example:
  • IT&T specialist businesses recorded strong growth in total income (24%) from 1998-99 to 2000-01, but there was a substantial decrease in their operating profit before tax (-35%) between these two periods. The operating profit margin for these businesses declined from 12.2% in 1998-99 to 6.5% in 2000-01. The greatest declines were in the computer services industry grouping (from 8.1% in 1998-99 to 1.4% in 2000-01), wholesale trade industry grouping (from 4.5% to -1.4%) and telecommunication services industry (from 21.2% to 16.2%).
  • Between 1998-99 and 2000-01, income from the domestic production of IT&T goods and services increased by 25% (to reach $50.2 billion) while imports of IT&T goods and services increased by 28% (to reach $17.3 billion). There was a trade deficit in IT&T goods and services of $11.3 billion for 2000-01, compared with a deficit of $9.1 billion for 1998-99.
  • The number of IT&T specialist businesses grew by 25% or 4,487 businesses, over the two years to 30 June 2001 (to reach a total of 22,475 businesses). The computer wholesale trade industry increased by 50% or 775 businesses, while the computer consultancy services industry grew by 24% or 3,350 businesses.
  • 238,521 people were employed in IT&T specialist businesses at 30 June 2001, an increase of 20% (39,932 people) since 30 June 1999. Employment was greatest in the computer consultancy services industry (88,222), followed by the telecommunication services industry (77,275) and the computer wholesale trade industry (38,656). More males (52%) were employed in positions whose main activity was computing and technical related compared to females (28%).

The next survey will be called the ICT Industry Survey and will be undertaken in respect of 2002-03. Results are expected to be released around July 2004.
2.7 ICT regional information

Policy makers and others are increasingly interested in regional ICT data. Within the limitations of survey methodology, ABS is striving to meet this demand and is able to offer regional data as follows:

  • Initial results from the 2001 Population Census were released on 17 June 2002. The Census included the following IT questions asked of all persons in the household:

    Did the person use a personal computer at home last week? No


    Did the person use the Internet anywhere last week? No

    Mark all applicable boxes Yes, at home
    Yes, at work
    Yes, elsewhere
  • Data down to the Statistical Division level, in respect of farm use of IT, are collected via the ABS Agricultural Commodity Survey. Survey results in respect of 2000 are available from catalogue 8150.0.
  • As the survey of Internet service providers (ISPs) includes all businesses, some regional data in relation to 'points of presence' are available at Statistical Division level. See catalogue 8153.0 for more details.

2.8 ICT satellite account work

An ICT satellite account brings together data on all of the ICT goods and services produced and consumed by all sectors/industries, allowing for better measurement and analysis of the impacts of these activities on the economy. Satellite accounts generally enable attention to be focussed on a certain field or aspect of economic and social life within the context of the balanced supply and use framework, which is a central feature of the national accounts.

As the national accounts provide a comprehensive measure of the whole economy and are compiled using consistent concepts, definitions and methods, this approach would enable the supply (production, imports) and use (including exports) of ICT products to be analysed from a "whole of economy" perspective, and enable the calculation of the direct contribution of ICT to the main national accounting aggregates.

The development of an ICT satellite account in respect of 2002-03 has been under consideration for some time by the ABS and, over the last year or so, some exploratory work has been undertaken on defining the conceptual framework of the account and ascertaining the data requirements to populate such an account. Should the project proceed, results could be expected towards the end of 2004 or early 2005.