8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update (Newsletter), Dec 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/12/2004   
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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 has established an ICT reference group, 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 September 2004. Some of the key issues discussed, included:
  • Broadband information requirements.
  • International comparisons of data for ICT.
  • Value of information propositions - this item arose from the last ICT reference group meeting, and proposed guidelines for a process of determining the value of information.
  • ICT satellite account - the benefits that this provides, in allowing for greater analysis of the impacts of the production and consumption of ICT goods and services by all industries within the framework of the national accounts.
  • Information Development Plan (IDP) - The ABS is embarking on the development of an IDP for ICT information. The ABS will take 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. While the IDP venture will generate very valuable documentation of statistical demands and of the available information base, the principal aim of the work is to establish a shared understanding of Australia's statistical priorities and shared responsibility for the collaborative work that will address statistical needs. The process of IDP development is a dynamic one, and is expected to result in more cohesive development of information to address needs.
  • Emerging issues - The National Data Network (NDN) has been developed by the ABS in collaboration with other interested agencies and will provide infrastructure, protocols, standards, and services to support the sharing and integration of data across Australia. The NDN is part of the National Statistical Service (NSS) initiative. The key benefits of the NDN are the availability, accessibility, and useability of information sources relevant to policy analysis and research - particularly key administrative and survey datasets held by State and Commonwealth Government agencies.
The ABS has recently implemented a website discussion forum (titled ICT Statistics), which is initially for ICT Reference Group members. The forum includes meeting and other relevant documents, and allows members to discuss issues before meetings. The ABS plans to expand the use of this forum in the future, subject to an assessment of its usefulness.

The next meeting for the ICT reference group is expected to take place in March 2005.2.2 Household use of IT

The ABS publication Household Use of Information Technology, Australia (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 include:
    • In 2003, 66% of Australian households had access to a computer at home (up from 44% of households in 1998) and 53% of Australian households had home Internet access (up from 16% of households in 1998).
    • Household access to the Internet varied across states and territories, from 66% of households in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) to 41% of households in Tasmania.
    • In 2003, just under half (48%) of people aged 15 years or over with a disability (excluding persons with a disfigurement or deformity without any limitations) who live in private dwellings reported having used a computer in the previous 12 months. For the same period, almost 2 in 5 (39%) had accessed the Internet.
    • In 2003, 29% of people aged 60 years or over living in private households in Australia reported having used a computer and 21% reported having used the Internet in the last 12 months.
    • In 2002, 56% of Indigenous people aged 15 years or over who live in private dwellings, reported they had used a computer and 41% reported they had used the Internet in the previous 12 months. Indigenous people in non-remote areas were almost twice as likely to have used a computer or the Internet than those in remote areas.
    • Most children aged 5 to 14 years who live in private dwellings (95%) used a computer and 64% accessed the Internet in the 12 months to April 2003 during or outside of school hours. Computer usage increased with age from 90% for 5 to 8 year olds to 99% for children aged 12 to 14 years. As with computers, Internet usage increased with age from 37% of 5 to 8 year olds to 88% for 12 to 14 year olds for the same period.

Future publications will use data from the ABS Multi-Purpose Household Survey (MPHS) which covers a proportion of the households used in the ABS Monthly Population Survey. The MPHS 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 survey (BUIT) has been conducted annually since 1999-2000. It collects data on use of computers, the Internet and the web by Australian businesses. Data on type of Internet connection, functionality of business websites, placing and receiving orders (by businesses) via the Internet for goods or services and supporting IT systems are also collected. Statistics are classified by state/territory, business size (based upon both employment and income), and by Australian and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC) at the division level.

Results for the period 2002-03 were shown in our June 2004 Update. More details for this release are also shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8129.0).

The 2003-04 BUIT survey is currently in the field. Results are expected to be released in mid to late March 2005.

2.4 Small business use of IT

The ABS released the publication Characteristics of Small Business, Australia (cat. no. 8127.0) on 28 April 2004. This publication presents the results of the Characteristics of Small Business Owners Survey for the period June 2003. This survey was included as a supplementary topic to the monthly Labour Force Survey and defined small business as non-employing businesses, including sole proprietorships; businesses with one to four employees; and businesses with five to 19 employees. It addressed a number of aspects of the operations of small business, while identifying the characteristics of small business operators. It covers all private sector, non-agricultural small businesses.

The publication presents results for all states and territories across Australia. It also includes comparisons to the previous survey conducted in June 2001.

Main features of the publication include:
  • It was estimated that the ACT had the highest proportion of small businesses using a computer in 2003 (75%), while the Northern Territory had the lowest proportion (60%). The ACT also led the way in terms of Internet use, with 68% of small businesses reporting having access in the period.
  • The ACT and Northern Territory were the only two areas to report a decrease in numbers of small businesses using a computer since 2001, previously reporting 77% and 63% respectively. Queensland reported the highest increased proportion of small businesses with access to a computer between the two periods, up from 66% to 73%.
  • In 2003, the proportion of small businesses that used the Internet for email was 52% (610,000 businesses). This is an increase of 8% when compared with 2001 (509,000 businesses). 60% of ACT small businesses reported use of email, representing the highest proportion while Tasmania reported the lowest proportion (42%).
  • There was a significant increase (11%) in the proportion of small businesses using the Internet to make or receive payments between June 2001 and June 2003. The largest of these was in Queensland, which rose from 20% to 33%.

More details for this release are shown in the Main Features (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 mid 2005.

The publication Government Technology, Australia (cat. no. 8119.0) was released on 2 July 2004. Main features from the latest publication include:
    • Total government operating expenses for wages and salaries of ICT employees were $1,689 million in 2002-03. Federal government level operating expenses for wages and salaries of ICT employees represented 50% of this total. State/territory and local government level operating expenses for this item were 42% and 8% of the total respectively.
    • Operating expenses for wages and salaries of ICT employees were the largest contributor to ICT operating expenses, representing almost a quarter of the total selected ICT operating expenses. ICT employment (30,733 employees) was highest at the federal government level (almost 50% of all government ICT employment and 4.5% of all federal government level employees). The federal government level had operating expenses of $836 million for wages and salaries of ICT employees.
    • Government operating expenses for computer software were $631 million, with federal and state/territory levels of government reporting $269 million and $291 million respectively. New South Wales and Victoria had similar proportions (25% and 24% respectively) of total state/territory level operating expenses for computer software.
    • Government operating expenses for payments to contractors and consultants for ICT services were $1,678 million with over two thirds ($1,131 million) of this amount being for ongoing services.
    • Total government capital expenditure for computer software, computers and computer peripherals and communications equipment was $2,333 million during 2002-03. The majority of this capital expenditure was by the federal government level (47%).
2.6 Farm use of IT

The ABS publication
Use of Information Technology on Farms, Australia (cat. no. 8150.0) was released on 6 September 2004. The data were obtained from questions included in the 2002-03 Agricultural Survey conducted by the ABS. Information obtained was in respect of the year ended 30 June 2003. The publication includes information relating to the use of computers and the Internet by farms, with some comparisons made to the data collected in the 2001-02 Agricultural Survey.

Main Findings from the latest publication include:
    • Of the 132,983 Australian farms with an estimated value of agriculture operations (EVAO) of $5,000 or more, an estimated 54% (or 71,936) used a computer as part of their business operations. This was an increase of one percentage point since the year ended 30 June 2002.
    • During the period 2002-03 an estimated 46% (or 60,459) of farms in Australia used the Internet as part of their business operations, an increase of three percentage points since the period 2001-02.
    • Western Australia reported the highest proportion of farms using a computer for business operations (67%) and the highest proportion using the Internet for business operations (59%), while Victoria reported the lowest proportions, with 49% and 40% respectively.
    • The horticulture and fruit growing, poultry farming and other crop growing industries reported the highest proportion of Internet use (51%), while the grain, sheep and beef cattle farming and dairy cattle farming industries reported the lowest proportion of farms using the Internet (both 44%).
    • There was a strong relationship between farm size, as measured by the estimated value of agricultural operations, and the use of a computer and the Internet. As farm size increased, so did the proportion of farms using a computer and the Internet.
More details (for the June 2003 data) are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8150.0).

The 2003-04 publication is expected to be released in August 2005.2.7 Internet activity

The ABS publication Internet Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8153.0) was released on 23 July 2004 for the March 2004 period. Data in this publication are sourced from the Internet Activity Survey, which is a Census of all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operating in Australia, and the Internet access services they provide.

A change has been made to the question on SPAM filtering products and their provision by ISPs. An additional category was included to capture those ISPs who provide SPAM filtering products as both free and a charged service. Previously only an either/or response could be given.

Findings from the latest publication include:

    • At the end of the March quarter 2004, total Internet subscribers in Australia numbered just over 5.2 million, an increase of 9,000 (0.2%) from the end of September quarter 2003.
    • Dial-up subscriber numbers in Australia fell by 163,000 (4%) in the six months to the end of the March quarter 2004, and now account for 84% of total subscribers. This continued a pattern of decline evident since March quarter 2003 when 91% of total subscribers accessed the Internet via dial-up technology.
    • The number of non dial-up subscribers grew from 690,000 at the end of the September quarter 2003 to 861,000 at the end of the March quarter 2004, an increase of 171,000 (25%) reflecting the continuing move toward these technologies. Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) subscriber numbers grew strongly from 372,000 in the September quarter 2003 to 512,000 in the March quarter 2004, an increase of 140,000 (38%).
    • There were 694 ISPs supplying Internet access to 5.2 million active subscribers at the end of the March quarter 2004.
    • Using the definition currently adopted by the ABS to define broadband ( “an 'always on' Internet connection with an access speed equal to or greater than 256 kilobits per second”), there were 834,000 broadband subscribers at the end of the March quarter 2004, an increase of 27% from the end of the September quarter 2003.
    • Data downloaded by subscribers during the March quarter 2004 increased by 37% from 4,665 million megabytes (MBs) to 6,409 million MBs. Reflecting the much faster download speeds available with non dial-up technology, these non dial-up subscribers increased their usage by 53% and accounted for over 75% of the total data downloaded whilst dial-up subscribers increased their downloads by just 5%.

      More details are shown in the Main Features (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.

The publication Information and Communication Technology, Australia (cat. no. 8126.0) was released on 7 September 2004 and presents results from the survey conducted in respect of 2002-03. The data includes all employing businesses across industry classes where ICT activity is likely. Non-employing businesses are excluded.

There have been changes made to the ICTIS since it was last conducted in respect of 2000-01. These changes have had an impact on the results of the 2002-03 survey and as a consequence data presented in the publication are not directly comparable to those published in previous issues. The most significant of the changes have arisen from the introduction of The New Tax System (TNTS).

Main features from the latest publication include:
  • At the end of June 2003, there were 25,516 businesses classified to the ICT industry grouping. Of these 23,950 (94%) were considered to be ICT specialist businesses.
  • Of these ICT specialist businesses, 18,524 (77%) were in the computer consultancy services industry, 1,831 (8%) in the computer wholesaling industry and 956 (4%) in the telecommunication services industry. The remaining 2,639 (11%) were spread across the other industries surveyed.
  • There were 235,696 persons employed in ICT specialist businesses at the end of June 2003. Of these persons, 107,686 (46%) were classed as ICT employees. The computer consultancy industry accounted for 69% of total ICT employees.
  • During 2002-03, total income for all businesses in the ICT industry grouping was $89,979 million with ICT specialist businesses recording a total income of $79,894 million (89% of total).
  • During 2002-03, businesses in the ICT industry grouping generated a total operating profit before tax of $6,879 million with ICT specialist businesses generating a total operating profit before tax of $6,393 million.
  • Total capital expenditure by businesses in the ICT industry grouping during 2002-03 was $8,175 million. ICT specialist businesses represented almost 98% ($8,003 million) of this total.
  • During 2002-03, total industry value added for the ICT industry grouping was $32,147 million. ICT specialist businesses had a total industry value added of $29,876 million.

Development of the 2004-05 survey is currently underway.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. The following graphic shows the proportion of farms using the Internet at the Statistical Division (SD) level in Australia at June 2003.
Map:Proportion of farms using the internet, By statistical division- June 2003
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 in mid 2005. A range of benefits are expected from compiling an ICT satellite account within the integrated national accounts framework, including:
  • enabling the supply and use of ICT products to be analysed from a 'whole of economy' perspective (using consistent concepts, definitions and methods) and enabling the calculation of the direct contribution of ICT to the main national accounting aggregates, such as gross fixed capital formation and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) etc;
  • providing a range of information about ICT products by industry;
  • promoting a more detailed understanding of the sources of supply of ICT and the use of such products which will assist in government policy formation and developments in the private sector; and
  • providing a framework that highlights areas where deficiencies may exist in the collection of ICT statistics.

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. It needs to be emphasised that the ABS is still in the process of examining the input data for quality and consistency, and that it is therefore somewhat uncertain at this stage exactly what outputs can be fully supported by the various input data. Nevertheless, the ABS fully expects its suite of ICT data to support a valuable and workable ICT satellite account.

Possible outputs of the proposed 2002-03 ICT satellite account include:
    • Contribution of ICT producers to GDP;
    • Domestic production of ICT products by industry, including software produced for own use;
    • Investment in ICT products, by type of ICT product - including: computer hardware; communications hardware; computer software etc.;
    • Investment in ICT products, by ANZSIC industry;
    • ICT-related current expense of business and government, by type of expense - including: telecommunications expense; ICT repair and maintenance expense; and payments to ICT contractors and consultants;
    • Household spending on various types of ICT products;
    • International trade in ICT products (by type of ICT product, and by principal destination and source); and
    • Numbers of employees mainly engaged in ICT-related work, and associated compensation of employees, by ANZSIC industry.
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.

For more information, please contact Tim Power at