8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update (Newsletter), Jun 2005  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/06/2005   
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2.1 ICT Reference Group
2.2 Household Use of Information Technology (IT)
2.3 Business Use of IT
2.4 Small Business Use of IT
2.5 Government Use of IT
2.6 Farm Use of IT
2.7 Internet Activity
2.8 Information Technology and Telecommunications Industries
2.9 ICT Regional Information
2.10 ICT Satellite Account

2.1 Information and communication technology (ICT) reference group

The ABS established an ICT reference group in early 2004 involving government, industry, academic and community representatives. The aim of the reference group is to improve the usefulness of ICT statistics in Australia from a variety of sources. The reference group provides a high level forum for understanding, improving and developing ICT statistics, providing members with the opportunity to discuss and consider strategies to address ICT statistical issues. In particular, these relate to:

  • existing or planned activities in the area of ICT statistics;
  • statistical priorities, based on policy, business and community requirements.

The most recent meeting was held in April 2005. Some of the key issues discussed, included:

  • Information Development Plan (IDP) - The ABS is in the process of developing an IDP for ICT information. The ABS is taking a lead role in this development, but will not be the owners of the outputs of this process. There are many stakeholders involved in the production and use of ICT information and it is important for the success of the IDP process to involve and engage with these users and producers. The development of IDPs is seen by the ABS as an important element in progressing the National Statistical Service. Its effectiveness is manifested in how useful it is for decisions made on statistical priorities.
  • The National Data Network (NDN) - The ABS is supporting the development of a National Data Network (NDN). The NDN provides a distributed library of data holdings for policy analysis and research. These data holdings remain held and controlled by their Custodian organisations. This initiative promotes improved integration and consistent systems across government by facilitating greater collaboration between data providers and faster access to data.

Data Custodians will have access to web based services, protocols, procedures and tools to assist them to more efficiently manage and share data in a way that ensures security and privacy.

The National Data Network will, over time, deliver significant value and benefits to:
• agencies, by avoiding development costs;
• policy makers, by supporting efficient access to data;
• researchers, by articulating clear and consistent access protocols; and
• the community, by improving outcomes from government policies.

Whilst data is held by each Custodian, the National Data Network provides a complete catalogue of available data sources to allow users to easily search for, and access data holdings which have been exposed.
  • Mobile technology data - It was noted that there is a lack of detailed data on mobile technology currently available. Particularly, the social impact of mobile phones, such as personal security and social interaction, has little data to analyse. It is considered that the main productivity impact of mobile technology is for small businesses, particularly tradespersons, and businesses using a large field work force.
  • International collections of ICT statistics.
  • Value of information propositions - This item was introduced at earlier reference groups, proposing guidelines for a process of determining the value of information. A more in-depth discussion took place, with the basic hypothesis being that information is valuable if it causes a decision change, and information affecting multiple decisions is as valuable as the most valuable use.
  • Collection of business characteristics statistics - The ABS is in the process of conducting investigations into better integrating business characteristics statistics. It is considered that this integration will yield efficiencies and an increase in the usefulness of these statistics.
  • ICT Statistics Web Discussion Forum - The forum includes meeting and other relevant documents, and allows members to discuss issues before meetings. The ABS noted that it was hopeful of being able to expand the use of the Web Forum beyond ICT Reference Group members in the future.
The next meeting of the ICT reference group is expected to take place in October 2005.2.2 Household use of IT

The publication Household Use of Information Technology, Australia (ABS cat. no. 8146.0) was released on 22 September 2004. This data was obtained from the 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), the 2003 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) and the 2003 Survey of Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities (CPCLA).

Main features from the latest publication were included in our previous

The next issue of the publication will be based on data from the ABS Multi-Purpose Household Survey (MPHS) for 2004-05, which covers a proportion of the households in the ABS Monthly Population Survey. The MPHS will be conducted on an annual basis and will serve as a stable collection vehicle for the Household use of IT data. The survey has a sample size of approximately 13,500 households. Results for 2004-05 are expected in early 2006.

2.3 Business use of IT

The Business Use of Information Technology (BUIT) survey has been conducted annually since 1999-2000. It collects data on use of computers, the Internet and web technologies by Australian businesses. The content of the BUIT survey changes each year to reflect the changing nature of information technology (IT) use by Australian businesses. As a result, the focus in BUIT survey content has moved from basic uptake of IT to measures of more sophisticated use of IT, such as receipt and placement of orders for goods and services via the Internet or web.

The most recent Business Use of Information Technology, Australia (ABS cat. no. 8129.0) publication was released on 17 March 2005 and presents the results of the survey conducted in respect of 2003-04. Main features from the publication include:

  • As at the end of June 2004, a higher proportion of businesses using the Internet were mainly using non-broadband connection types (58%) compared to broadband connection types (41%).
  • Broadband connections were the most prevalent as the main type of Internet connection for businesses which employed 100 or more persons (78%) and 20-99 persons (54%). In contrast, the most common type of Internet connection for businesses which employed 0-4 persons and 5-19 persons was dial-up (analog) at 54% and 49% respectively.
  • The most common broadband connection used was DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) with 67% of broadband users identifying this as the main type of broadband connection. The next most common main type of broadband connection was cable (28%) which includes Fibre Optic, Coaxial and Hybrid Fibre Coaxial cable.
  • Lack of perceived benefit (32%) was the most common reason reported by businesses for not using broadband, followed by ongoing costs being too high (26%) and start up connection costs being too high (24%).

The BUIT survey will again be conducted for the 2004-05 reference year.

More details for this release are shown in the
Main Features (ABS cat. no. 8129.0).
2.4 Small business use of IT

The publication Characteristics of Small Business, Australia (ABS cat. no. 8127.0) was released on 28 April 2005. This publication presents the results of the Characteristics of Small Business Operators Survey which was conducted in June 2004 as a supplementary topic in the ABS Monthly Population Survey. This survey of households operating businesses addressed a number of aspects of the operations of small business as well as identifying the characteristics of small business operators. The survey covers private sector, non-agricultural small businesses. Similar surveys were previously conducted in February 1995, February 1997, November 1999, June 2001 and June 2003. The ABS plans to conduct an expanded version of the survey in June 2005.

Data are presented mainly for the June 2003 and June 2004 surveys. Where it is appropriate to do so, broad comparisons with earlier surveys' results are included in commentary.

Main features of the publication include:

  • At June 2004, there were an estimated 856,200 home based small businesses in Australia which were either operated from home or operated at home. This represented 68% of all small businesses, a similar proportion to that recorded at June 2003. These businesses were operated by 1,039,700 people, representing 63% of all small business operators.
  • Of all home based business operators in Australia, at June 2004, 735,500 (71%) were male, this proportion represented an increase of 2.9 percentage points since June 2003. The proportion of female operators fell by 2.9 percentage points to 304,200 in June 2004.
  • At June 2004, 68.2% of Australian home based businesses were using computers in their business operations, compared to 71.7% for all small businesses. Of these businesses, 86.2% reported having access to the Internet.
  • The most common use of the Internet by Australian home based businesses was for email and other purposes (50% and 51% respectively).
  • The proportion of home based businesses in Australia using the Internet increased for all purposes, but particularly for making or receiving payments, which rose by 3.9 percentage points since June 2003.
  • As the size of the business increased so too did the likelihood that the business used a computer, with 93% of businesses which employed 5-19 people, using a computer, compared to only 63% of non-employing businesses. Access to the Internet was more common in larger businesses.
  • The most common Internet usages reported by small business were for email (87%), research (83%), and 'other' purposes (89%). The Internet was used by 34% of all small businesses for 'making or receiving payments', an increase of 5.1 percentage points from June 2003.

More details for this release are shown in the Main Features (ABS cat. no. 8127.0).

2.5 Government use of IT

The Government Technology Survey (GTS) provides key measures on employment and ICT expenditures by government organisations in Australia. The scope for the 2002-03 survey was federal, state/territory and local government (including indigenous councils) organisations whose predominant activity falls within the institutional sector of general government. Public financial and non-financial corporations are out of scope for the survey. A sample of public sector education organisations was also included for ICT satellite account purposes. This included a sample of schools and universities, and a census of vocational education institutions. The 2002-03 survey was remodelled since the 1999-2000 survey to have a greater focus on financial data. This data is being used to populate the 2002-03 ICT satellite account, which is due to be released in September 2005.

The publication
Government Technology, Australia (ABS cat. no. 8119.0) was released on 2 July 2004. Main features from the publication were included in our previous newsletter.

There are no plans to conduct another survey in the near future.

2.6 Farm use of IT

The ABS publication
Use of Information Technology on Farms, Australia (ABS cat. no. 8150.0) was released on 6 September 2004. The publication includes information relating to the use of computers and the Internet by farms, with some comparisons made to the data collected in 2001-02.

Main Findings from the latest publication were included in our previous

The 2003-04 publication is expected to be released in late 2005.

2.7 Internet activity

The publication
Internet Activity, Australia (ABS cat. no. 8153.0) was released on 18 February 2005 for the September 2004 period. Data in this publication are sourced from the Internet Activity Survey (IAS), which is a Census of all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operating in Australia, and the Internet access services they provide.

The previous issue of the Internet Activity, Australia publication notified of a change in frequency from biannual to annual following the completion of the September quarter 2004 collection. While this decision has not been reversed, the change from biannual to annual frequency will now occur following the conduct of the March quarter 2005 collection. The annual collection will continue to measure changes in the structure of the ISP industry and the number of Australian households and organisations obtaining access to the Internet through ISPs.

Findings from the latest publication include:

  • At the end of September 2004, total Internet subscribers in Australia numbered over 5.7 million. This was an increase of over 520,000 (10%) from the end of March 2004.
  • Non dial-up subscribers represented almost 23% of total Internet subscribers in Australia at the end of September 2004. This was the highest proportion of subscribers recorded for non dial-up technologies since the inception of the survey in September 2000.
  • Data downloaded by subscribers during the September quarter 2004 increased significantly (72%) to 11,004 million MBs from the 6,409 million MBs downloaded during the March quarter 2004. Non dial-up subscribers accounted for 84% of the total data downloaded, reflecting the much faster download speeds available with non dial-up technology.
  • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) was the predominant access technology used for non dial-up Internet services with over 63% of total non dial-up subscribers being connected using this means. There were 549 ISPs (80% of total ISPs) providing Internet services using DSL access technologies at the end of September 2004.
  • There were 1,290,000 broadband subscribers at the end of September 2004, an increase of 55% from the end of March 2004.
  • The majority (87%) of Australian Internet subscribers used monthly, quarterly or annual plans to access the Internet at the end of September 2004. Hourly access plans were the next most dominant means of accessing the Internet with 12% of subscribers.
Dial-up subscriber numbers fell for the third consecutive cycle since the survey's inception. Whilst dial-up connections still represent 77% of total Internet subscribers in Australia, this proportion has fallen dramatically from the 91% using this connection technology at the end of September 2003.

More details are shown in the Main Features (ABS cat. no. 8153.0).
2.8 Information technology and telecommunications industries

The Information and Communication Technology Industry Survey (ICTIS) is a biennial survey that collects data on the production and distribution of information technology and telecommunication (IT&T) goods and services by businesses in Australia.

Summary information collected for the 2004-05 reference period will be provided in the publication
Information and Communication Technology, Australia (ABS cat. no. 8126.0), which is expected to be released in August 2006. The information covers all employing businesses across industry classes where ICT activity is likely. Non-employing businesses are excluded.

2.9 ICT regional information

Regional information relating to ICT issues is available through the following collections:
  • The 2001 Census of Population and Housing asked two questions on computer and Internet usage by households. Census data is available starting at the Collection District (CD) level. This level is the smallest geographic area defined in the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC).
  • Data down to the statistical division level, in respect of farm use of IT, are collected via the ABS 2002-03 Agricultural Survey.

2.10 ICT satellite account

The National Accounts Research section of the ABS is compiling an ICT satellite account in respect of 2002-03. The data collection is complete and the account is in the compilation stage. It is anticipated that the results of this work will be available for publication by September 2005. A range of benefits are expected from compiling an ICT satellite account within the integrated national accounts framework, and are listed in our previous

There are a range of potential outputs that could be included in an ICT satellite account. The final range of outputs included in the satellite account will reflect a number of factors, including what is technically feasible, given Australia's range of ICT statistics for 2002-03; the statistical integrity exhibited by the data inputs to the satellite account; and the input of potential users. The ABS is still in the process of examining the input data for quality and consistency, and it is therefore somewhat uncertain at this stage exactly what outputs can be fully supported by the various input data. Nevertheless, the ABS expects its suite of ICT data to support a valuable and workable ICT satellite account.

While data outputs will relate primarily to 2002-03, in cases where comparable data are available and are of sufficient quality, a limited time series of results will be presented. If it is available, a time series of data will allow analysis of the evolution of ICT supply and demand.

A pilot study for an ICT satellite account was conducted for the period 1998-99. A summary of findings was included in our June 2003 Update.