Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ICT Statistics for the National Broadband Network

Greetings from the ICT Statistics Reference Group Meeting at the Australian Bureau of Statistics in Canberra. Major federal ICT agencies and industry bodies are represented in the group (I am here on behalf of the ACS). Major items discussed were the rollout of the National Broadband Network in Tasmania (where I was last week) and the creation of the NBN Company. I talked about the Australian ICT Trade Update released yesterday. Another item was that the Queensland Government has released a "ICT for tomorrow's Queensland - Strategy" and Action Plan.

One issue which keeps coming up at these meetings is the lack of resources for the ABS to collect ICT statistics. One suggestion I have made is to ask the new NBN Company for funding. The NBN Company has a very close interest in the use of ICT in Australia and is well funded by the federal government. An extra ten million of dollars per year spent on statistics may save tens of billions of dollars on misdirected investment in broadband infrastructure.

One statistical detail which may become important is that the ABS will start recording the number of home fibre optic connections in Australia (currently there are only though to be about 400). ABS will look from the home point of view, as a result a fibre termination to cluster housing will not count as fibre to the home. This has very significant implications for the statistics and for pubic policy. As an example, there is a fibre node in the basement of my apartment building, with copper cable the last few tens of metres to the apartment. This would not be counted as fibre to the home by the ABS. In my view it should be counted as this is fibre to the premises and provides essentially the same service as if the fibre was terminated in my apartment. This will skew the statistics, and undercount the FTTP statistics. It is very much cheaper and easier to use copper for the last tens of metres, than fibre, so there will be a lot of this. It would be unfortunate if many Austrlaias missed out on better broadband because of a statistical definition.

Here is the agenda for the meeting, I will comment on other items as we go along:

ICT Reference Group Meeting

23 September 2009


  1. Welcome – 5 mins

  1. Minutes from last meeting and action item status – 5 mins

  1. ICT Strategic issues – current and emerging (for discussion by group members) – 50 mins

    1. Updates in policy landscape and priorities since the last reference group meeting.

    2. Emerging regulatory priorities and trends in technology.

    3. Future directions for ICT statistics from a user perspective.

    4. Other, as identified by members.

  1. Updates on ABS business collections (for information and discussion) – 40 mins

    1. ICT Industry Survey (ICTIS): Developments since the last reference group meeting.

    2. Development of 2009–10 Business Use of Information Technology (BUIT) survey.

    3. Changes to Internet Activities Survey (IAS)

    4. Update on Farm Use of Information Technology (FUIT)

  1. Data in respect of Government Use of IT [update by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO)] – 15 mins

  1. Update on ABS collections relating to Non-business Use of IT (for information and discussion) – 15 mins

    1. Census of Population and Housing: Developments in relation to 2011 ICT related questions – update from previous meeting – 5 mins

    2. Developments in Household Use of Information Technology (HUIT) statistics – 10 mins

      1. Status of development for 2010–11 HUIT.

  1. ICT related statistics produced by other organisations (for information) – 15 mins

    1. Cyber Crime Survey by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) – update on status (presentation by AIC)

    2. ICT compendium and ICT Remuneration Survey by the Australian Computer Society (presentation by ACS)

  1. Analytical projects undertaken by ABS (for information) – 20 mins

  1. International developments – 10 mins

    1. Working Party on Indicators for the Information Society (WPIIS) meeting in Paris 23-24 April 2009.

    2. OECD Project on Analysis and Classification of Internet activities – status on ABS contribution.

  1. Recent developments: work underway, recent releases and upcoming releases (for information) – 10 mins

    1. Work underway: Surveys and other work currently in development.

      1. BUIT 2009–10

      2. HUIT 2010–11

    2. Recent releases (since March 2009):

      1. Internet Activity Survey, Australia, December 2008 (6 April 2009)

      2. Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business, 2007–08 (25 June 2009)

      3. Use of Information Technology on Farms, 2007–08 (17 August 2009)

      4. Business Use of Information Technology, 2007–08 (20 August 2009)

      5. Internet Activity Survey, Australia, June 2009 (14 September 2009)

      6. Selected Characteristics of Australian Business, 2007–08 (17 September 2009)

    3. Upcoming releases:

      1. Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia, 2007–08 (25 September 2009)

      2. Business Longitudinal Database, Confidentialised Unit Record File (October 2009)

      3. Household Use of Information Technology, 2008–09 (16 December 2009)

  1. Other business and Conclusion

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