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THE INFORMATION SOCIETY AND THE INFORMATION ECONOMY IN AUSTRALIA
Table S6.1 provides statistics for a selection of industries considered to be the predominant contributors to the production and distribution of ICT goods and services. The table is based on ABS surveys conducted in respect of 1992-93 and 1995-96.
The scope and definitions for both surveys are broadly consistent. However, some of the apparent growth in the size of the industries between 1992-93 and 1995-96 stems from improvements in the coding and coverage of the relevant businesses. Althoughdifficult to quantify precisely, investigations suggest that these improvements contributed about 10% to the growth in income, expenses and pre-tax profit between the surveys.
In 1995-96, total income for the industries included in the ICT sector accounted for the following proportions of the total income of the sector:
The statistics shown are the most recent available; the ABS plans to survey the ICT sector next in respect of 1998-99.
Business use of information technology
The ABS has measured the use of computers and Internet access among businesses for June 1994 and June 1997. Both surveys excluded non-employing businesses and farms.
The proportion of employing businesses using computers increased from 49% in June 1994 to 63% in June 1997. While all large businesses (200 or more employees) and 94% of medium sized businesses (20-199 employees) used computers, the proportion for all small businesses (less than 20 employees) was 60%, and for 'micro' businesses (less than five employees) 56%.
One in three businesses had used computers for five years or more, and one in ten had used them for less than two years.
About 21% of all businesses had Internet access at June 1997 (table S6.2), though this varied by size of business: 85% of large businesses, 49% of medium sized businesses, 19% of small businesses, and 17% of micro businesses had Internet access.
About 5% of businesses had a web-site/home page at June 1997.
At June 1997, the main uses of the Internet were email (by 20% of businesses with Internet access) and information gathering (by 18%).
Only 1% of businesses used the Internet for selling or purchasing goods or services, indicating that Internet commerce by businesses is still very small. It currently comprises a small proportion of all electronic commerce in Australia. The number of electronic commerce transactions is large; in 1997 there were 1.5 billion such transactions in Australia. Their value was about $16,000b, the bulk of which related to payments and clearances (valued at $15,300b). There were 500 million EFTPOS transactions, with a total value of $27.5b and an average value of $55, and 600 million direct entry transactions, with a total value of $540b and an average value of $900. Consumer Internet transactions were valued at about $55m.
While the ABS business surveys did not measure the proportion of employees using computers or accessing the Internet, or their intensity of use, ABS surveys of households (discussed below) have measured the number of adults (persons aged 18 or over) who said they had used a computer or accessed the Internet at work. In summary, in the 12 months to March 1998:
· about 4.3 million adults used computers at work (52% of employed adults); and
· about 1.4 million adults accessed the Internet at work (17% of employed adults).
Farm use of information technology
The ABS's Agricultural Commodity Survey estimated that 45% of farms had a computer at March 1998 (table S6.3). This was almost identical to the proportion for capital city households (46%), but was significantly greater than for all other households (36%). (The latter category comprises farm households and households in regional and rural towns.)
Nearly 12% of farms were connected to the Internet at March 1998 (table S6.5 and graph S6.6). This compares with:
· 14% of all Australian households, and 27% of all home-based businesses;
· 17% of capital city households, and 35% of capital city home-based businesses; and
· 8% of households in all other areas and 14% of home-based businesses in all other areas.
Household use of information technology
The main dimensions of household use of informaton technology relate to the number of households with computers, the extent of use of computers at home, and the number of households accessing the Internet from home.
The statistics relating to households are an average of the results from surveys in February and May 1998 (the surveys were combined to increase their reliability).
As table 6.3 showed, about 42% of households had computers, comprising 46% of capital city households and 36% of other households. Table S6.7 shows the distribution by State/Territory and capital city/other. The ACT had by far the highest penetration rate (65%) and Tasmania the lowest (33%).
About 36% of households used a computer frequently (i.e. once a week or more). This proportion was relatively consistent across the States and Territories, except for the ACT (56%) and Tasmania (26%) (table 6.8).
Between the corresponding periods in 1996 and 1998, the proportion of households frequently using a computer increased by about 18%. This increase was relatively consistent across the States and Territories
About 6% of households had a computer but did not use it frequently. This rate was also reasonably consistent across the States and Territories.
As table S6.5 indicated, 14% of Australian households had home Internet access. Again the ACT had the highest penetration rate (27%, nearly double the Australian average) and Tasmania the lowest (8%) (table 6.9).
As table S6.10 shows, in all States the proportion of households with Internet access was significantly higher in capital cities (17%) than elsewhere (8%).
Of households with computers, 68% did not access the Internet. Of the reasons given by households with computers for not accessing the Internet, the main ones were 'costs are too high' (31%), 'lack of interest in Internet' (27%) and 'other' (23%) which included 'lack of access to Internet service provider' and 'inadequate telecommunications infrastructure' (table S6.11).
Possession of a modem by households, as distinct from their accessing of the Internet, was measured in both 1996 and 1998 (Internet access was not measured in a comparable way between the 1996 and 1998 surveys). Table S6.12 shows that the proportion of households with a modem, and which frequently used a computer, doubled between 1996 and 1998. Nearly half of the 2.4 million households frequently using a computer in 1998 also had a modem.
Persons using computers and the Internet
This section summarises some of the main characteristics of persons who use a computer, namely the number of adults (persons aged 18 and over) accessing computers from home and from work, and the age distribution of persons frequently using a home computer and of those accessing the Internet from home.
The statistics are again an average of the results from the February and May 1998 surveys.
More than 7.6 million adults (57% of the total adult population) accessed a computer from any site in the previous twelve months, 4.6 million accessing from home, and 4.3 million from work (table S6.13). Just over a million people accessed the Internet from the house of a neighbour or friend, a public library or a TAFE or some other tertiary institution.
More than 3.3 million adults accessed the Internet from any site in the same period. There was a slightly greater number of adults using the Internet from work than from home (1.4 million compared to 1.3 million). Over 0.8 million adults accessed from the house of a neighbour or friend and 0.6 million from a TAFE or other tertiary institution.
About 5.2 million adults (62% of employed Australians) used computers for work purposes, either at work or from home. (This estimate is derived by adding to the 4.3 million adults who used computers at work from table S6.13, a further 2.5 million adults who used a computer at home for work related purposes, and adjusting for overlap. A complementary estimate for Internet use is not yet available.
Averaging over the February and May 1998 surveys, nearly 5.2 million Australians aged 5 years and over frequently used a computer at home. This was 31% of the total population aged 5 years and over. The corresponding proportion in 1996 was 24% (table S6.14).
While two-thirds of the 5.2 million frequent home computer users were adults, a greater proportion of children used computers at home than did adults (50% compared to 26%). With increasing age, a greater proportion of children, but a smaller proportion of older adults, frequently used a computer.
Table S6.15 shows that 1.3 million frequent home computer users also accessed the Internet from home (8% of all persons 5 years and over). Of those, 257,000 were children aged 5 to 17 years. About 13% of children aged 15 to 17 years, and 12% of those aged 10 to 14 years, frequently used a home computer and accessed the Internet.
Over one million adults frequently used a computer and also accessed the Internet from home. Younger adults were more likely to use the Internet than older ones. Over 10% of adults aged between 18 and 39 years frequently used a home computer and accessed the Internet from home. However, only 2% of persons aged 55 years or more accessed the Internet from home.
The proportion of adults purchasing goods or services through the Internet is relatively small, although it doubled between the surveys of February and May 1998. In the period June 1997 to May 1998, 400,000 Australians aged 18 or over (3% of adults) used the Internet to make one or more private purchases. Three-quarters of the adults making Internet purchases paid for them on-line, and a similar proportion purchased them from overseas. There were about 1 million transactions for a total value of over $50 million. (It should be noted that the number of transactions and their value were derived from range data, and are therefore subject to fairly high degrees of error.)
Household Use of Information Technology, Australia (8146.0).
Information Technology, Australia (8126.0).
Small and Medium Enterprises, Business Growth and Performance Survey, Australia (8141.0).
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