RealTime IT News

Research Shows Continuing Net Usage Growth in Australia

The number of Australian households with connections to the Internet jumped by almost 20 per cent in the last quarter, according to the latest survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The number of households with Internet access rose from 1.28 to 1.52 million, a jump of 18.8 per cent, the quarterly ABS survey said. A further 684,000 householders said they were intending to connect to the Net.

Nearly 5 per cent of Australian consumers made an e-commerce purchase in the period, making an estimated total of 3 million transactions. The most popular purchase items were books or magazines (38 per cent of Australian Net shoppers) computer equipment (34), music (14), clothing or shoes (11), holidays (9), event tickets (8) and sporting equipment (4).

The total number of adult Australians who access the Internet in the year to May 1999 had risen to 40 per cent, or 5.5 million people, an increase of 500,000 or 9.3 per cent on the previous February figure. The adult access figure was 53.7 per cent higher than in May 1998, and the household statistic soared by 107.5 per cent on year-ago numbers.

The demographics of the Internet using public are not surprisingly slanted towards middle to upper class males, but far from becoming more evenly distributed, the gender gap is widening in favour of males. 44 percent of Australian men accessed the Net in the last 12 months (growing from 29) compared to 37 per cent of women, up from 24.

"Between May 1998 and May 1999 there has been no change in the dominant characteristics of adults accessing the Internet," said the ABS in the report, entitled 'Use of the Internet by Householders, Australia, May 1999'.

74 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds accessed the Net in the year to May 1999 (compared with 49 per cent by May 1998), a trend which was followed in smaller proportions by older age groups. Participation by Australians aged 55 and over rose from five to 10 per cent over the year.

"Despite the strong increases over the 12 month period, regional, female and older participation rates continue to be lower than the average," said Federal Communications Minister, Senator Richard Alston.

The Federal government will hold a Seniors Online Day on September 7 to encourage usage of electronic communication by the elderly as part of the International Year of the Older Person.