8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update (Newsletter), Dec 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/01/2004   
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2.1 ICT Reference Group
2.2 Household Use of IT
2.3 Business Use of IT
2.4 Government Use of IT
2.5 Farm Use of IT
2.6 Internet Activity
2.7 Information Technology and Telecommunications Industries
2.8 ICT Regional Information
2.9 ICT Satellite Account Work

2.1 ICT reference group

Although the ABS has a significant and well-regarded program of ICT collections and outputs, there has been no forum of ICT statistics stakeholders to discuss and address contemporary issues in this field of statistics. To ensure ABS ICT statistics remain relevant and appropriately focussed, the ABS has established an ICT Reference Group, involving government, industry, user and community representatives.

The overall objective of this new group will be to improve the usefulness of ICT statistics in Australia. The Reference Group will provide a high level forum for understanding, improving and developing ICT statistics. This will provide the opportunity for members of the Group to discuss and consider strategies to address contemporary ICT statistical issues, particularly in relation to:

      1. existing or planned activities in the area of ICT statistics;
      2. statistical priorities, based on policy, business and community requirements.
The first meeting of the ICT Reference Group will be held late January/early February 2004.2.2 Household use of IT

The ABS publication Household Use of Information Technology, Australia (cat. no. 8146.0) was released on Wednesday 10 September 2003, in respect of 2001 and 2002.

The publication presents results from the Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology (SETIT), conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) between April and August 2001 and the General Social Survey (GSS), conducted by the ABS between March and July 2002. The statistics included in this publication present information about access to computers and the Internet in private households, and information about the use of computers and Internet by people aged 18 years and over in these households.

Some of the key findings from the publication are:
    • In 2002, 61% of Australian households had access to a computer at home (up from 44% of households in 1998) and 46% of Australian households had home Internet access (up from 16% of households in 1998).
    • 66% of Australian adults used a computer in 2002. The percentage of adults who used a computer was still growing, albeit relatively slowly from 60% in 1998. Adults were most likely to use a computer at home.
    • The number of adults using the Internet continues to grow strongly, though the rate of growth is slowing. In 2002, 58% of Australian adults accessed the Internet, rising from 31% of adults in 1998. Access to the Internet at home has shown particularly strong growth during this period, from 13% of adults in 1998 to 43% of adults in 2002. Similar to computer use, adults were most likely to access the Internet from home.
    • In 2002, the Internet was used by 23% of adults to pay bills or transfer funds (up from 17% in 2001), 21% of adults used the Internet to access government services (up from 16% in 2001) and 15% of adults shopped via the Internet (up from 11% in 2001).
    • The number of Internet shoppers has increased by 34% since 2001 and the amount they are spending has also grown markedly. The percentage of shoppers spending up to $500 via the Internet decreased from 61% in 2001 to 46% in 2002, while those who spent over $1,000 increased from 19% in 2001 to 34% in 2002. Internet shoppers spent around $1.9 billion in 2001, which rose to at least $4 billion in 2002. Travel/accommodation was the most common purchase via the Internet.

More details are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8146.0).2.3 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 26 February 2003 in respect of the 2001-02 financial year. Highlights from that release were shown in our June 2003 Update.

The Business Technology survey is an annual economy wide survey collecting information from approximately 12,800 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 businesses in the following industries:
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • Education
  • Religious organisations
  • Government administration and defence
  • Private households employing staff

The 2001-02 survey continued to cover access to and use of computers, the Internet and web sites by Australian businesses, as well as measuring the ordering of goods and services via the Internet. New to the 2001-02 survey were methods of Internet access by Australian businesses and the exploration of issues related to IT security.

More information from the 2001-02 survey can be found in the Main Features (cat. no. 8129.0).

Development of the 2002-03 survey is now complete and forms were despatched in July 2003. Questions asked in the 2002-03 survey were similiar to the 2001-02 survey. However, the key differences for the 2002-03 survey were the reduction of questions relating to IT security, and the inclusion of two additional questions in the 'Internet or Web selling' section of the form. These questions sought reasons for why businesses did not receive orders via the Internet, and systems used by businesses to receive orders via the Internet. The publication for 2002-03 is expected to be released in March 2004.

Planning for the 2003-04 survey is in progress, and will continue to collect employment and gross income to use for output classifications. The following topics are expected to be covered:

  • Outsourcing for IT support
  • IT security
  • Online government services
  • Internet access
  • Internet connection type including broadband use and barriers
  • Web presence, functionality and linkages to other business systems
  • Internet commerce including income and linkages to other business systems

Sample design for the 2003-04 survey will undergo a major review in early 2004. It is expected that the sample size will be reduced as part of this review.2.4 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.

More details are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8119.0).

Development work for the 2002-03 survey is now complete and forms were despatched in September 2003. The 2002-03 survey will have a greater focus on financial data (as a key input to an ABS ICT Satellite Account) and less focus on the use of IT in government agencies. The Government Technology Survey will be reviewed to determine the appropriate future direction of the survey.

2.5 Farm use of IT

Data relating to computer and Internet access 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. The ACS is conducted annually except for 2000/2001 when the ABS conducted an Agricultural Census.

Additional data about computer and Internet activities undertaken by farms was collected in 2001/2002. This includes such information as accessing the Internet to find information on weather, markets, goods and services and government services; using the Internet to pay bills and use email; and using computers to manage farms records and finances.

Results for 2001/2002 are expected to be published in the ABS publication Use of Information Technology on Farms, Australia (cat. no. 8150.0) in February 2004.

Details (for the 1999/2000 release) are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8150.0).2.6 Internet activity

On 1 September 2003, the ABS released the publication Internet Activity, Australia in respect of the March quarter 2003 (cat. no. 8153.0).

Some of the key findings from the latest survey are:
    • There were 554 ISPs in Australia supplying Internet access services to 5.1 million active subscribers at the end of the March quarter 2003. This is a decrease of 9 ISPs (2%) over the six month period to the end of the March quarter 2003. Takeovers and mergers were the predominant reason for this decrease.
    • For the first time, the total number of subscribers in Australia exceeded 5 million at the end of the March quarter 2003. This represents an increase of 521,000 subscribers (11%) since the end of the September quarter 2002. The majority of new subscribers (over 98%) were in the Household sector with over 4.4 million household subscribers in total.
    • The number of access lines available to subscribers increased by 34% to 857,470 between the September quarter 2002 and the March quarter 2003. Matching this growth has been the increasing number of subscribers with permanent or non dial-up connections, with around 470,000 subscribers at the end of the March quarter 2003, an increase of over 34% from the end of the September quarter 2003. In particular, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) connections increased by 65% reflecting the continued strong growth in broadband (access speeds equal to or greater than 256kbs) services. DSL continues to be the predominant technology utilised to deliver broadband services.
    • The increasing uptake of broadband services is also evident in the continued, if less substantial, increase shown in the volume of data downloaded by subscribers, up 5% between the September quarter 2002 and the March quarter 2003.
    • Monthly/Quarterly/Annual access plans remained the most popular access plans with almost 3.5 million subscribers, or 69% of all subscribers choosing this option. However, the strongest growth was in subscribers with Hourly Access plans, which increased by 456,000 (48%).
    • The number of Points of Presence (POPs) declined by 285 (14%) over the six months to the end of the March quarter 2003. The main reason for declining POP numbers is the rationalisation of POP operations by ISPs through use of different access technologies such as 0198 numbers or sharing POP infrastrucuture supplied by infrastructure providers.
    • At the end of the March quarter 2003, ISPs provided 1,687 POPS and 857,470 access lines across Australia, resulting in a average of 5.9 subscribers per access line. This is considerably lower than the average of 7.1 subscribers per access line at the end of the September quarter 2002. The move to broadband technologies contributes to the reduction in the ratio of subscribers to access lines due to the 1:1 nature of these 'always on' connections and their non-reliance on POPs.

More details are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8153.0)

The next survey for the period September Quarter 2003 will include new questions to reflect changes occurring in the industry. These questions will focus on broadband take-up and SPAM issues. 2.7 Information technology and telecommunications industries

The latest data available is for 2000-01, which was released on 19 September 2002 (cat. no. 8126.0). Key results were shown in our December 2002 Update.

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 in July 2004.

2.8 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, and second release data in November 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 boxesYes, 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 for 1999/2000 are available from cat. no. 8150.0 and results for 2001/2002 are expected to be published in February 2004. Please refer to Section 2.4: Farm use of IT of this Update for more details.
  • 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. Please refer to Section 2.5: Internet Activity of this Update for more details.
2.9 ICT satellite account work

The ABS is compiling an ICT Satellite Account in respect of 2002-03. This compilation will be within the context of the balanced supply and use framework of the national accounts. An ICT Satellite Account enables data on all of the ICT goods and services produced and consumed by all sectors/industries to be brought together. This allows a more defined measurement and analysis of the impacts of these activities on the economy.

In 2001-02, the ABS undertook a pilot study on an ICT Satellite Account in respect of 1998-99 utilising the limited range of data that was available at that time. In our June 2003 Update, we included the key findings of this pilot study. As a result of the pilot study, extensive data collection is currently being undertaken to enable a more complete and detailed ICT Satellite Account to be compiled for the 2002-03 reference period. This involves collecting additional information from all sectors of the economy via a number of collection vehicles.

These include:

(a) Business Sector - data will come from the ABS Economy Wide Survey collections which include the Economic Activity Survey (EAS) and its related surveys including Manufacturing, Mining and Utilities Industries Surveys, Service Industries Surveys and the ICT Industry Survey; the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority collections for the bank and insurance industries; and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics collections for broad acre and dairy agriculture industries.

(b) Government Sector - data will come from the ABS Government Technology Survey (GTS) which will collect a similar range of ICT employment and ICT expenditure data as the EAS collections. A different form will be used to collect data from public sector educational organisations.

(c) Household Sector - data will come from the ABS 1998-99 Retail Industry Survey in conjunction with activity data from the annual ICT use modules included in household surveys. Information from the ABS 2003-04 Household Expenditure Survey will also be used for verification purposes, subject to timeliness of early estimates of expenditure on ICT commodities.

For the business and government sectors, the range of data being collected to assist in compiling the ICT Satellite Account includes:
  • ICT employment
  • ICT expenses (eg. wages and salaries of ICT staff)
  • ICT capital expenditure (eg. computer software capitalised)
  • ICT capitalised wages and salaries and purchases of materials for capital work done by employees for own use (eg. development of software for in-house application)
  • Information on ICT equipment donated to organisations will be requested from education organisations

Results from the 2002-03 ICT satellite account are expected to be published in March 2005.

For more information, please contact Tim Power at