ICT has become increasingly more affordable over the past decade with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recording marked increases in access to PCs and the Internet in Australian households.
In its Household Use of Information Technology report the ABS found that access to the Internet at home between 1998 to 2008-09 had more than quadrupled from 16 to 72 per cent of Australians.
Over the same period access to a PC in the home increased from 44 per cent to 78 per cent.
Despite the high penetration of PCs into Australian households, a number of socio-economic factors still played a role in the household uptake of computers, the report found.
“As with previous years, the percentage of households with home computer access continues to be significantly higher for households in the highest income quintile (93 per cent), households with children under 15 years of age (91 per cent), households in the ACT (88 per cent) households in metropolitan areas and major cities of Australia (both 81 per cent),” the report reads.
On the issue of Internet take-up, the report found that households with higher levels of Internet take-up were typically in the highest income quintile (90 per cent), had children under 15 years of age (86 per cent), were in the ACT (82 per cent), or metropolitan areas (76 per cent) or major cities of Australia (75 per cent).
The report also found that during 2008-09, the number of households with broadband access increased by 18 per cent from the previous year to an estimated five million.
This represented 86 per cent of all households with Internet access having access to broadband, an increase from 78 per cent in 2007-08, according to the report.
“Conversely, the proportion of households with dial-up internet access decreased from 14 per cent to 9 per cent over this period,” the report reads.
Another major finding of the report was the high percentage of Australians who used the Internet to purchase goods and services – around eight million of the estimated 12.6 million people who accessed the Internet.
Consistent with a greater level of disposable income, 82 per cent of people in the top household income quintile used the Internet to purchase or order goods or services for private purposes, compared to 42 per cent in the lowest quintile.