A few days ago, I posted a copy of my presentation (“Digital Inclusion in the Broadband World: Challenges for Australia”) at last week’s Communications Policy and Research Forum (CPRF), which took place in Sydney on November 7th and 8th.
One of the presentations at the Forum – entitled “Regional Australians Engaging in the Digital Economy” – was given by Joseph DiGregorio, the Manager of the Communications Analysis Section at the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
I mentioned in my conference paper, there appears to be some disagreement regarding what percentage of Australians are “broadband-connected”. Clearly these figures do matter, because if the figures are low, the Government will feel the need to invest more funds in promoting and facilitating “digital participation”. But if the figures are relatively high, the pressure (and the political imperative) eases. So below is a summary taken from slide 17 of DiGregorio’s presentation, with figures supplied by Roy Morgan Research and effective June 2011 – just about the best figures you will find anywhere. Click here to view a copy of his slides.
The most “broadband-connected” homes in Australia (note that this is “homes” only, and not all “premises”, which also includes businesses, etc):
– The ACT comes in the winner at 75% – this makes a lot of sense, considering the relatively higher wealth and education of ACT residents, both factors being associated with high broadband-connectivity. The ACT also leads with the most internet-access homes at 85%.
– Next comes Brisbane at 74% broadband (admittedly, a one percentage point difference may not actually be statistically significant), with 84% internet-connected.
– Next is Perth at 73% broadband connected (82% internet).
– Then Melbourne broadband homes at 72%, Darwin/Alice Springs (metro NT) at 71% and Sydney at 69%. I would hazard a guess that Sydney’s 69% IS statistically significant, compared to the ACT’s 75% connections.
What is even more telling – and troubling but certainly not surprising – are those at the bottom of the Australian broadband connection percentages:
– Tasmania outside of Hobart at 55% and Hobart at 61% (and who is complaining about how much attention Tasmania actually gets on telecommunications matters?; they appear to need it, big time).
– Rural South Australia sits at 62%.
– Rural Victoria and rural New South Wales sit at 65%.
Yes, these metro/rural figures are significant, and consistently so. In fact, in every state the household broadband connectivity of non-capital city regions are about ten percentage points lower below than the major metropolitan areas. The one exception is Tasmania, primarily because the Hobart connection numbers are so low to begin with. Note that no figures are available for non-metro Northern Territory because of small numbers; if data were available, presumably these would be extremely low because of the large number of remote communities where connectivity is not high.