8153.0 - Internet Activity, Australia, December 2012 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 09/04/2013   
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1 This release presents results from the Internet Activity Survey (IAS) conducted in respect of the three months ended 31 December 2012.


2 The December 2012 IAS covers Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who operated in Australia as at 31 December 2012. ISPs are defined as businesses that supply internet connectivity and access services to individuals, households, businesses, government and other organisations. Libraries, internet kiosks, internet cafes and hotspots which provide internet access on a casual basis are excluded from the survey population.

3 The source of the IAS population frame is a list of ISPs from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), with whom ISPs are required to register. Using this list as a basis, the ABS maintains its own list of ISPs. The TIO register may contain the following organisations that are out of scope or counted differently on the IAS: those that are no longer operating as ISPs, including wholesalers and web hosting ISPs only; those where there is common ownership and, therefore reporting is consolidated for these ISPs on the IAS; and other types of organisations that are required to register with the TIO (for example, telecommunications companies which do not provide ISP services).

4 The reference periods for this collection are June and December to align with international reporting of broadband statistics by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The IAS generally includes information reported by all ISPs operating in Australia, with more than 1,000 subscribers, as at 30 June and 31 December. Every three years the ABS conducts a full census of all Australian ISPs, where those ISPs with 1,000 or less subscribers complete only a subset of questions. The next census of all ISPs will be conducted in respect of June 2013. The overall contribution of these smaller ISPs was less than 1% of all subscribers for the June 2010 IAS census, with minimal contribution to any other data released. This approach to the IAS provides frequent and timely data on key trends while keeping resource usage and provider load to acceptable levels, particularly for smaller ISPs.

5 Mobile wireless internet connections using a datacard, dongle, USB modem or tablet SIM card have been collected by the IAS for some time now. Internet connections via a mobile handset were first published in June 2010 as an appendix and are now published as a separate chapter in the main Summary tab.


6 The ABS counts the number of subscribers that have an internet connection with an ISP on the last day of the reference period. ABS subscriber statistics measure the number of 'subscriber lines' rather than the number of 'users' and therefore, counts of subscribers are not the same as counts of people/organisations with internet access. This is because some subscribers may have accounts with more than one ISP or multiple accounts with a single ISP. Conversely, there are single ISP subscriber accounts that provide internet access for multiple people/organisations (for example, universities).


7 The unit for which statistics are reported in the IAS is the legal entity providing internet access.

8 ISPs in the IAS have been classified by size according to the number of subscribers that ISPs reported at the end of the reference period. The size categories are defined as follows:

ISP sizeNumber of subscribers
Very Small ISP1 - 100
Small ISP101 - 1,000
Medium ISP1,001 - 10,000
Large ISP10,001 - 100,000
Very Large ISP100,001 or greater


9 This release relates to information as at 31 December 2012, except for volume of data downloaded, which is for the three months ended 31 December 2012.


10 The response rate for the December 2012 IAS was 96%.


11 Where data were missing or required clarification, respondents were contacted in the first instance. When necessary, missing data were imputed based on historical data collected or live respondent means.


12 As the IAS does not have a sample component, the data are not subject to sampling variability. However, other inaccuracies, collectively referred to as non-sampling errors, may affect the data. These non-sampling errors may arise from a number of sources, including:
  • errors in the reporting of data by respondents;
  • errors in capturing or processing of data;
  • estimation for missing or misreported data; and
  • definition and classification errors.

13 Every effort has been made to reduce non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design and testing of questionnaires, efficient operating procedures and systems, appropriate methodology, and contact with providers to resolve anomalies. Errors in previous cycles' data are only revised (if possible) where they have a significant impact on the data released.

14 The volume of data downloaded presented should only be considered as an indicative measure of internet activity during the reference period and therefore should be used with caution.

15 Some ISPs provide proportions in lieu of actual state subscriber numbers. These data have an element of estimation and should be used with caution. Similarly, data for mobile handset subscribers are split by dedicated data subscriptions and all other active standard subscriptions. Not all ISPs keep accurate records of this disaggregation, therefore these data also have an element of estimation and should be used with caution. This does not impact on the accuracy of the mobile handset subscriber numbers at the total level.

16 A glossary of the terms used in this release can be found under the Topics @ a Glance page for Innovation, Science and Technology.


17 ABS releases draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated for without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

18 In particular, the ABS acknowledges the assistance of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) in providing regular lists of registered ISPs.


19 Other ABS releases on information technology and telecommunications in Australia are:


20 Information about ABS activities in the field of information technology statistics is available from the Innovation, Science and Technology @ a Glance pages in the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>.