8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update (Newsletter), Nov 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/11/2001   
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2.1 Ad Hoc Technical Meeting of Asia/Pacific Statisticians on IT&T Statistics
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 IT&T Regional Information


The above meeting was held in Brisbane in May this year and was attended by Asia/Pacific statisticians with expertise in the design and collection of statistics on IT&T. Countries represented were Singapore, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong (SAR of China), New Zealand and Australia. The aim of the meeting was to give IT&T statisticians an opportunity to work together to better understand the issues and future directions for statistical work in this field.

Information about the meeting and papers can be found on the ABS web site under Themes (go to the ABS web site, https://www.abs.gov.au, and select Themes from the menu shown on the left side).


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 subset of the HUIT module of questions has been incorporated into the Survey of Education and Training (now called the Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology - SETIT). A publication is expected to be released from SETIT in early 2002.

The last HUIT release was a compilation of PSM data relating to the year 2000. Data from the four quarterly PSM surveys in 2000 were consolidated to produce average annual estimates. This consolidation allows detail for smaller target groups, such as State and Territory populations, to be presented. These average annual results were released in May in ABS publication Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2000 (Cat no. 8146.0).

Key indicators from this publication included:

  • In 2000, over half (53%) of all Australian households (3.8 million households) had a home computer while one third (33%) had home Internet access. As shown in the following graph, the number of households with a computer but without Internet access is decreasing.

    Household Access to Computers and the Internet

    Graph - Household Access to Computers and the Internet

  • Over a quarter of the households with a home computer had access to two or more computers. Overall there were 5.4m computers in those 3.8m households in 2000. Four out of every five computers were used at least once a week, while half were used to access the Internet.
  • By 2000, 61% of Australian households had access to a mobile phone, up from 45% in 1998.
  • Nearly half (47%) of all Australian adults accessed the Internet during 2000, while two thirds (66%) used a computer during that year. Older adults have been slower to adopt these new technologies, as can be seen in the graph below.

    Adult Computer and Internet Use, By Age Groups

    Graph - Adult Computer and Internet Use, By Age Groups

  • Home is now the site from which adults are most likely to access the Internet. Although 4.0m adults accessed the Internet from home during 2000, another 1.1m adults had home Internet access but chose not to use it.

    Site of Adult Internet Access
    Graph - Site of Adult Internet Access

  • Over half (53%) of those adults who used a computer at home during 2000 did so for work related purposes. Other popular reasons for use were to correspond with family or friends (43% of adults using a computer at home), for study or other learning activities (40%), to keep family or personal records (36%) or to play games (35%).
  • Over two thirds (68%) of those adults accessing the Internet at home during 2000 did so to use email or to access chat sites. Over half did so just to browse or surf (57%), while over a third (36%) were looking for information related to their work.
  • Nearly one million adults, or 7% of all adults, used the Internet during 2000 to order goods or services for their own private use, spending on average around $600 during the year.
  • Most popular items among these purchases were books and magazines, music and computer software or equipment.

Maps showing the uptake of Internet access for households in each Australian capital city statistical division can be found in the latest release of 'State of Play' (June 2001), produced by the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE). The report can be accessed from the home page of the NOIE web site, www.noie.gov.au. The maps were constructed using data from the ABS's April 2000 Monthly Population Survey. The survey also collected information about children's use of computers and the Internet; details of these results can be found in the ABS publication Use of the Internet by Householders, August 2000 (Cat. no. 8147.0).

Main Features from catalogues 8146.0 and 8147.0 can be found on the ABS web site.2.3 BUSINESS USE OF IT

The ABS publication Business Use of Information Technology (Cat. no. 8129.0) presents details from the ABS Business Technology Survey. The latest results were released on 15 December 2000 in respect of the 1999-2000 financial year. Data collection is currently underway for the 2000-2001 survey with results expected to be released about February 2002.

The Business Technology survey is an annual economy wide survey collecting information from about 15,000 private sector businesses. 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 1999-2000 survey focussed on the uptake of computer and Internet technologies, including web technologies, among businesses. It also collected details of business use of the Internet and web, including activities related to purchasing or selling goods or services over the Internet or web. The 2000-2001 survey will collect similar details with additional data relating to the perceived benefits of purchasing or selling via the Internet or web.

Development for the 2001-2002 survey is about to commence. Comments or suggestions regarding the data content for this survey are welcomed and should be addressed to Sheridan Roberts. Contact details can be found at the end of the newsletter.

Some of the key findings from the 1999-2000 survey were that approximately 3 out of every 4 businesses used computers, just under 3 in every 5 accessed the Internet while about 1 in every 6 businesses had web sites or home pages.

Debate around the world continues on the extent and definition of e-commerce. The Business Technology Survey collects the value of Internet sales, defining an Internet commerce transaction as:

"The sale or purchase of goods and/or services conducted over the Internet (including via email, public Web sites or B2B Internet based trading systems). Both the method of payment and delivery of the product are irrelevant, that is they may occur by more traditional off-line means, such as phone or mail."

In Australia, the value of Internet commerce for the year ended 30 June 2000 was estimated at $5.1b. This represented only a very small portion (0.4%) of the total sale of goods and services over the same period.

Main Features from catalogue 8129.0 can be found on the ABS web site.

Results from the latest ABS Government Technology Survey are due for release before Christmas. The results are in respect of the 1999-2000 financial year and will be published in Government Use Of Information Technology, Australia, 1999-2000 (Cat. no. 8119.0).


Data relating to the use of computers and the Internet 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. Results were released in the ABS publication Use of Information Technology on Farms, Australia, 2000 (Cat. no. 8150.0) on 26 September 2001.

The ACS is an annual survey which, in the past, was conducted in respect of the year ended 30 March. From 2000 onwards, the collection is in respect of the year ended 30 June. This change in collection period will align the ACS with other annual ABS surveys. Users of farm IT data should take care when comparing figures from previous releases as the lapsed time between the 1999 and 2000 surveys is 15 months, rather than 12.

Questions relating to IT were previously included on the ACS in 1998 and 1999. For 2001, IT questions were not included on the ACS but will be collected again in 2002.

Some of the main findings from the 2000 survey released on 26 September were:
  • An estimated 58% (or 84,898) of the 146,371 farms in Australia used a computer at June 2000. This represented a 17% increase in the number of farms using a computer since March 1999 when the survey was last conducted.
  • An estimated 34% (or 49,499) of farms in Australia used the Internet at June 2000. This represented a 91% increase in the number of farms using the Internet since March 1999.
  • There was a strong relationship between computer and Internet use and the size of the farming operations, as shown in the graph below.

Graph - Farms using a computer and the Internet, by EVAO

Main Features from catalogue 8150.0 can be found on the ABS web site.

Internet Activity, Australia, June Quarter 2001 (Cat. no. 8153.0) was released on 27 September 2001. It featured results of the quarterly survey of Internet service providers (ISPs). The collection is a census of all Australian-based ISPs operating during the reference period. Data collected include: size and structure of the ISP industry, characteristics and location of ISP customers, their Internet usage and the nature of related telecommunications infrastructure. (ISPs are defined as businesses which supply Internet connectivity services to individuals, households, businesses and other organisations.)

Some findings from the June quarter survey were:
  • The total number of ISPs continues to decline despite new ISPs entering the market. There were 718 ISPs operating at the end of the September quarter 2000. By the end of the June quarter 2001, there were 628 ISPs. The decrease has come mainly from the smaller ISPs (those with fewer than 10,000 subscribers).
  • Very large ISPs provided Internet access for 57% of all subscribers at the end of the June quarter. This compares with 29%, 11%, 3% and 0.1% respectively for Large, Medium, Small and Very small ISPs.
  • There were 1,204 million megabytes (Mbs) of data downloaded by subscribers during the June quarter 2001. This has increased from the three previous quarters (1,052 in September 2000, 1,050 in December 2000 and 1,040 in March 2001). During the June quarter 2001, household subscribers downloaded 648 million Mbs of data (54% of the total) while business and government subscribers downloaded 557 million Mbs. There was an overall average of 288 Mbs of data downloaded per Internet subscriber, with household subscribers averaging 176 Mbs of data downloaded, and business and government subscribers averaging 1,096 Mbs.
  • Internet access technology is rapidly changing with a vast range of technologies available to access the Internet including: analog, digital, satellite, Wireless Applications Protocol (WAP), and microwave. There is keen policy interest in the growth of broadband technologies such as Cable and Digital Subscriber Line (DSL). The survey shows that from September quarter 2000 to June quarter 2001, DSL subscribers increased from 6,000 to 27,000.

Other details, including information for States/Territories and smaller regions, are shown in catalogue 8153.0, Main Features of which can be found on the ABS web site.

Users should note that the frequency of the Internet Activity Survey may change during the current financial year. Following a review of the Survey, the ABS is considering reducing its frequency to biannual. If this occurs, it would be conducted in respect of September and March quarters each year.

The final 1998-99 results from an ABS survey on the production and distribution of information technology and telecommunications (IT&T) goods and services by Australian businesses were released on 28 November 2000 in the ABS publication Information Technology, Australia, 1998-99 (Cat. no. 8126.0). The publication also included IT&T import and export data and IT&T international trade in services data obtained from other sources. This was the third survey covering the IT&T sector with the previous one being in respect of 1995-96.

The publication contains separate details on the IT&T industries included in the survey as well as information on the recorded media manufacturing and distribution industry (because it undertakes significant IT&T activities).

IT&T Production surveys will be undertaken on a biennial basis in future with the next in respect of 2000-01. This survey is currently in progress, with the data expected to be released in Information Technology, Australia, 2000-01 (Cat. no. 8126.0) in July 2002.

Main Features from catalogue 8126.0 can be found on the ABS web site.


Policy makers and others are increasingly interested in regional IT&T data. Within the limitations of survey methodology, ABS is striving to meet this demand and is, or will be, able to offer regional data as follows:
  • The 2001 Population Census included the following IT questions asked of all persons in the household:
      Did the person use a personal computer at home last week?

      Did the person use the Internet anywhere last week?
      (Mark all applicable boxes)
      Yes, at home
      Yes, at work
      Yes, elsewhere

      These questions should provide very useful statistics on regional access to IT, cross classified against a large range of variables. Results are expected to be available around mid 2002.
  • Data down to the Statistical Division level, in respect of farm use of IT, are available from the Agricultural Commodity Survey. Survey results in respect of 2000 are now available from catalogue 8150.0.
  • As the new quarterly 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 catalogue 8153.0 for more details.