8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update (Newsletter), Jun 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/07/2003   
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The ABS has introduced 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, Training and Information Technology (SETIT). For 2002, HUIT data was collected in the new General Social Survey (GSS) conducted by the ABS. Results from both the 2001 SETIT and the 2002 GSS are expected to be released in a joint issue of cat. no. 8146.0 later this year.

For 2003, HUIT questions have been included in the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) and in the MPS Supplementary Survey - Children's Participation in Culture/Leisure Activities (CPCLA). These surveys will provide household data on computer and Internet access. In addition, individual person data on computer and Internet usage will be available from people with a disability, those aged 60+ (SDAC) and for children aged 5-14 yrs (CPCLA). CPCLA was conducted in April 2003 and SDAC will be enumerated from June - November 2003. Results are expected to be released in 2004.

More details are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8146.0).

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 26 February 2003 in respect of the 2001-02 financial year.

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 Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Education, Religious organisations and Private households employing people.

The 2001-02 survey continued to cover the extent 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.

Development of the 2002-03 survey is now complete and forms will be despatched in July.

Some of the key findings from the 2001-02 survey are:
  • Over the twelve months to June 2002, no growth occurred in the proportion of businesses using a computer, with the proportion remaining at 84% of all businesses.
  • Growth in access to the Internet increased by 3 percentage points to 72%.
  • The percentage of businesses with a web presence increased by 2 percentage points to 24%.
  • The method of Internet access varied across business size with access to the Internet through a dial-up modem being more prevalent in smaller businesses ie. those employing 0 to 4 persons.
  • 25% of all Australian businesses placed orders over the Internet, compared with 20% during 2000-01.
  • 41% of businesses reported some form of IT security incident or breach.
  • A virus was the most common IT security incident or breach, reported by 38% of Australian businesses.

More details are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8129.0).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 now complete and forms will be despatched later in the year. 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.

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

2.4 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.

Information about computer and/or Internet access as at 30 June was collected in 1999/2000 and 2001/2002. Additionally, in 2001/2002 information about the type of Internet activity during the year was also collected.

As the ABS conducted an Agricultural Census in 2000/2001, the ACS was not conducted in that year.

Results from the 1999/2000 ACS were released in the ABS publication Use of Information Technology on Farms, Australia (cat. no. 8150.0) on 26 September 2001 and results for 2001/2002 are expected to be published later in 2003.

More details are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8150.0).2.5 Internet activity

On 7 March 2003, the ABS released the publication Internet Activity, Australia in respect of the September quarter 2002 (cat. no. 8153.0). Following a review, the ABS has reduced the frequency of this collection from quarterly to six monthly. 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 ISPs in Australia decreased by 8 (1%) to 563 over the six month period to the end of September quarter 2002. This represents a slowing in the rate of decline in ISP numbers recorded since September 2000. Takeovers and mergers were the predominant reason for this decrease.
  • The number of Points of Presence (POPs) declined (down 164) over the six months to the end of September quarter 2002 as Virtual ISPs (ISPs using infrastructure supplied by another provider) became more prevalent, resulting in rationalisation.
  • The number of access lines available to subscribers increased by 43% to 639,197 between the March quarter 2002 and September quarter 2002. Significantly influencing this growth has been the increasing number of subscribers with permanent connections (around 350,000 subscribers at the end of September quarter 2002, an increase of over 47% from the end of March quarter 2002). In particular, DSL connections increased by 112% reflecting the accelerating uptake of broadband (access speeds equal to or greater than 256kbs) services.
  • The number of subscribers grew by around 326,000 (8%) to almost 4.6 million. The majority of these were in the household market with over 3.9 million household subscribers. The increase in subscribers was largely attributable to an increase in subscribers on Hourly Access plans (up by 184,000). Of these subscribers, approximately 350,000 had permanent Internet connections (8%).
  • The increasing uptake of broadband services is also evident in the large increase shown in the volume of data downloaded, up 28% between March quarter 2002 and September quarter 2002. This builds on the 42% increase in data downloaded between September quarter 2001 and March quarter 2002. The faster access speeds provided by DSL and other high speed connections enhance subscribers capacity to download greater volumes of data and the speed of such downloads.

Other details, including more information for states/territories and smaller regions, are shown in the
Main Features (cat. no. 8153.0).

The March 2003 publication is expected to be released in early September 2003.2.6 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.

2.7 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, 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 expected to be published later this year.
  • 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 cat. no. 8153.0 for more details.
2.8 ICT satellite account work

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. An ICT satellite account brings together data on all of the ICT goods and services produced and consumed by all sectors/industries, allowing for analysis of the impacts of ICT activities on the economy.

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.
While some of the data is already being collected (eg. computer software expensed and capitalised expenditure on computers and computer peripherals), it will be necessary to collect remaining data from a variety of collection vehicles to cover the business, government (including educational institutions) and household sectors.

These collections include:
  • ABS 2002-03 Economic Activity Survey (EAS)
  • ABS 2002-03 ICT Industry Survey
  • ABS 2002-03 Government Technology Survey
  • ABS 2002-03 Service Industries Survey
  • ABS 1998-99 Retail Industry Survey (in conjunction with activity data from the annual ICT use modules included in household surveys)
  • Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) collections (for broad acre and dairy agriculture industries)

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

The ABS has conducted a pilot ICT Satellite Account for the period 1998-99. Please see Chapter 8 of this Update for a special article on the findings of this exploratory study.