of the net
This page offers selected statistics about connectivity
and the telecommunications industry in Australia and New
It covers -
The history of telecommunications in Australia over the
past thirty years is one of normalisation, with successive
new media and applications (mobile phones, email, SMS,
broadband access) being adopted by most households and
By late 2008 over 52% of Australian households were estimated
as having broaddband. 75% had a personal computer.
As of 2000/1 the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
considered that there were around 814 businesses in the
telecommunications sector within Australia, with overall
employment of around 77,275 people.
The ABS estimated the overall income of those enterprises
at $31,505 million, with $26,661 million expenses and
operating profit before tax of $4,954 million. Total assets
were around $55,898 million.
As points of reference Cisco's market capitalisation reached
US$555 billion (almost half the annual GDP of France)
in March 1999 and AOL-Time Warner announced losses of
US$54.2 billion for the first quarter of 2002.
By late 2008 ACMA estimated that there 369 voice telephony
service providers were operating in Australia, with 166
companies offering services over the public switched telecommunications
network (PSTN), 242 companies offering voice over internet
protocol (VoIP) services, and 74 companies providing both
PSTN and VoIP services. 204 companies - most very small
- provided wireless internet services (often to a handful
of customers), with over half providing services to regional
areas. There were around 41 satellite broadband service
providers, most being regional ISPs that resell satellite
broadband to regional, rural and remote customers.
ACMA estimated that there were approximately 11.26 million
fixed voice (standard telephone) services at mid 2006,
down from 11.46 million in the previous year.
There were four mobile carriers operating seven mobile
phone networks, with Australia's remaining CDMA network
(operated by Telstra) expected to be shut down in 2008.
In 2001 Australia had around 21.29 million fixed-line
phones (ie 1.09 handsets per capita) and 11.17 million
mobile phones (0.57 per capita). By December 2002 that
had increased to 12.5 million mobile phone subscriptions
(up from 6 million in 1999).
An estimated 83% of all Australian households at that
time were within five kilometres of an exchange.
New Zealand had 4.11 million fixed phones (1.07 per capita)
and 2.28 million mobiles.
As of mid-2006 there were a reported 58,000 payphones
in Australia, with expectations that the number would
decline by around 10% over the following two years.
At the end of September 2003 the ABS estimates that the
number of internet subscribers in Australia was over 5.2
million (an increase of 135,000 from the end of March
2003 following increases of 11% for the six months ended
March 2003 and 8% for the six months ended September 2002).
Dial-up subscriber numbers in Australia fell by 85,000
in the six months to September 2003, falling below 90%
for the first time. The number of non dial-up subscribers
grew from 470,000 at the end of the March 2003 to 690,000
at the end of September 2003. Digital Subscriber Line
(DSL) subscriber numbers rose from 209,000 in the March
quarter 2003 to 372,000 in the September quarter of that
There were 667 ISPs at that time: as noted earlier in
this profile many of those bodies were very small and
of uncertain viability. The ABS July 2005 Internet
Activity Survey (IAS)
featured results from all ISPs identified by the ABS as
operating in Australia as at 31 March 2005. Continuing
volatility among ISPs - the ABS recognised 689 ISPs supplying
internet connectivity to 5.98 million active subscribers
- saw a 5% increase in the number of 'Very Small' ISPs,
those ISPs with fewer than 101 subscribers. The category
accounted for only 0.1% of total subscribers (and 0.4%
of total data downloaded).
Many of those entities are 'virtual' ISPs, using infrastructure
and services provided by the dominant players, whose market
share continues to increase. Ongoing consolidation and
departures saw further decreases in the number of 'Small'
(up to 1,000 subscribers) and 'Large' (up to 100,000 subscribers)
ISPs. There were 10 ISPs with over 100,000 subscribers
at the end of the 2005 March quarter.
In New Zealand there were around 1.24 million subscribers
at the end of March 2005, according to Statistics New
Zealand. They were serviced by 66 ISPs. Residential subscribers
accounted for 80% of that figure and provided 63% of the
revenue. Business and government users were 20% of the
total number of subscribers, providing 37% of the revenue.
There were 30 ISP subscribers per 100 inhabitants in New
Zealand, compaed with Australia's 29 subscribers per 100
inhabitants. New Zealand had 11 non-analogue active subscribers
per 100 inhabitants (Australia had nine).
In July 2004 the number of broadband connections in Australia
supposedly reached 1 million, with Telstra claiming 750,000
broadband connections (including those who connect to
other ISPs using its ADSL network) and Optus claiming
247,000 on its cable network and via phone lines.
At that time the ABS reported that
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, reflecting a continuing
move to broadband technologies.
Subscriber Line (DSL) subscriber numbers grew from 372,000
to 512,000 during the same period.
downloaded by subscribers during the March quarter 2004
increased by 37% from 4,665 million MBs to 6,409 million
MBs - 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%.
ABS July 2005 Internet Activity Survey (IAS)
featured results from all ISPs identified by the ABS as
operating in Australia as at 31 March 2005.
It suggested that the total number of internet subscribers
at that time was 5.98 million, an increase of 239,000
(4%) from the end of September 2004. The increase in overall
subscriber numbers was attributable to growth in "non
dial-up" - primarily broadband - subscribers, up 39% from
1.3 million in September 2004 to 1.8 million at the end
of March 2005.
Non dial-up subscribers represented 30% of total internet
subscribers in Australia at the end of March 2005. Most
of the growth for non dial-up was in the household subscriber
sector, with a 42% increase in household broadband subscribers
since the end of September 2004 (to around 1.4 million).
The overall number of dial-up subscribers continued to
decline, down to 4.2 million.
Around 550 ISPs provided connectivity using Digital Subscriber
Line (DSL) technology. Data downloading by subscribers
during the quarter continued to increase, up 28% to 14,124
million MBs. Broadband subscribers accounted for almost
87% of the total data downloaded.
The September 2005 Snapshot of Broadband Deployment
report from the Australian Competition & Consumer
Commission (ACCC) claimed that the number of broadband
services in Australia was close to 2.2 million, an increase
of over 1 million customers over the preceding year. ADSL
accounted for 1.5 million broadband connections in the
June 2005 quarter.
As of March 2005 analogue was the predominant connection
mechanism in New Zealand, accounting for with 800,000
subscribers (65%). DSL was the most common mechanism within
the 440,000 non-analogue subscribers.
800,000 subscribers had a download speed of less than
64 kbps. Among the non-analogue subscribers a download
speed of 64kbps to 128kbps was the most common.
In late 2008 the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated
that there were 4.3 million households with a broadband
connection, up 22% from the previous year. The figure
represents 52% of all households in Australia and 78%
of households with internet access. ACMA offered somewhat
different figures, reporting that there were 6.6 million
internet subscribers in Australia: 3.9 million using broadband
and 2.7 million using dial-up.
In late 2008 the ABS Household Use of Information
Technology 2007-2008 reported that 72% of people
aged 15 years or over accessed the internet from any location
in the 12 months prior to July 2008. Home was the most
popular location of access, with 64% of those people accessing
the net from home and 33% from the workplace as the next
most common location for accessing the Internet. Of those
persons, "the average time spent using the internet
was just over one hour per day (excluding internet use
during working hours)".
points of reference
Overseas statistics as points of reference are highlighted
A range of graphs about telecommunications in Australia
and New Zealand are here (PDF). For devices see
the graphs here (PDF).