Skip to main content

How we communicate: Methodology

We used the following methodology to produce the Communications and media in Australia: How we communicate interactive report.

ACMA annual consumer survey

The ACMA annual consumer survey provides information on:

  • consumer behaviour
  • adoption of, and attitudes towards, media and communications services
  • the effectiveness of regulatory interventions.

This research is part of the ACMA research program, which gathers evidence that informs our decisions as a regulator, and ensures we are up-to-date on market developments and consumer trends.

The ACMA-commissioned research was undertaken by The Social Research Centre (SRC) using the SRC’s probability-based online panel, Life in AustraliaTM (LinA). LinA includes people with and without internet access. Those without internet access or who are not comfortable completing surveys online are able to complete surveys by phone.

The consumer survey methodology used a mixed-mode approach, comprising:

  • online interviews with Australian adults
  • computer-aided phone interviews of adults who are not regularly online.

The surveys represented the Australian population aged 18 and over.

Table 1:  ACMA consumer survey summary of key statistics, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020

 

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total sample (n)

2,277

2,107

2,067

2,009

Online interviews (n)

1,965

1,842

1,824

1,913

Telephone interviews (n)

312

265

243

96

Field work date

16 May–4 June

14–27 May

6–19 May

9–21 June

Average survey length (minutes)

19.7

25.1

20.0

25.0

The tables below show the annual consumer survey research sample sizes for the charts used in the report.

1. How Australians communicate: Services used

Table 2: Research sample sizes for Australian adults who used communication services for personal purposes (by all respondents, age group, gender and location, 2017 to 2020)

 

Jun 2017

May 2018

May 2019

Jun 2020

All respondents

2,277

2,106

2,067

2,009

Age

 

 

 

 

18–24

136

108

91

81

25–34

292

251

254

265

35–44

317

269

299

308

45–54

386

369

370

311

55–64

500

434

404

417

65–74

437

465

429

412

75 and over

204

207

215

194

Gender

 

 

 

 

Male

1,055

974

971

879

Female

1,217

1,129

1,090

1,124

Location

 

 

 

 

Metropolitan

1,503

1,379

1,366

1,335

Regional

774

727

701

674

2019 and 2020 sample sizes for Australians aged 18 to 24 are small (n<100 interviews). These results should be interpreted with caution.

Chart base: Australian adults aged 18 and over.

QA1. In the past 6 months, which of the following communication services have you used for personal purposes? Landline telephone call at home; Mobile phone call; Texting (SMS) from a mobile phone; Public payphone; Used an app for social networking, for example, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat; Email; Video calling from a mobile phone not including video calls made using an app; Fax; Used an app for messages, for example, Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype; Used an app for video calls, for example Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype; Used an app for voice calls, for example, Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype; None of these (exclusive); Don’t know (exclusive); Refused (exclusive).

Notes:

  1. 2017 wording was ‘messaging/calling app (i.e. Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype)’, 2018–20 wording was ‘used an app for messages, for example, Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype’; ‘used an app for voice calls, for example, Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype’, and ‘used an app for voice calls, for example, Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype’.
  2. ‘Metropolitan’ refers to those who live in Australian capital cities and ‘Regional’ refers to those who live in the rest of the state, as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Greater Capital City Statistical Area definition.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey, 2017 to 2020.

2. How Australians communicate: Use of mobile phones

Table 3: Research sample sizes for Australian adults who used a mobile phone (by all respondents, age group, gender and location, 2017 to 2020)

 

Jun 2017

May 2018

May 2019

Jun 2020

All respondents

2,277

2,106

2,067

2,009

Age

 

 

 

 

18–24

136

108

91

81

25–34

292

251

254

265

35–44

317

269

299

308

45–54

386

369

370

311

55–64

500

434

404

417

65–74

437

465

429

412

75 and over

204

207

215

194

Gender

 

 

 

 

Male

1,055

974

971

879

Female

1,217

1,129

1,090

1,124

Location

 

 

 

 

Metropolitan

1,503

1,379

1,366

1,335

Regional

774

727

701

674

2019 and 2020 sample sizes for Australians aged 18 to 24 are small (n<100 interviews). These results should be interpreted with caution.

Chart base: Australian adults aged 18 and over.

QA1. In the past 6 months, which of the following communication services have you used for personal purposes? See Table 2 notes for response options – Mobile phone call; Texting (SMS) from a mobile phone; Video calling from a mobile phone, not including video calls made using an app.

QC1. Is your main mobile handset a smartphone?

Note: ‘Metropolitan’ refers to those who live in Australian capital cities and ‘Regional’ refers to those who live in the rest of the state, as defined by the ABS’s Greater Capital City Statistical Area definition.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey, 2017 to 2020.

3. Use of communication apps: How apps are used

Table 4: Research sample sizes for Australian adults who used a communication app to make voice calls, video calls or send messages (by all respondents, age group, gender and location, 2019 and 2020)

 

May 2019

Jun 2020

All respondents

1,992

1,984

Age

 

 

18–24

91

81

25–34

252

265

35–44

298

308

45–54

365

310

55–64

395

414

65–74

403

405

75 and over

183

180

Gender

 

 

Male

937

870

Female

1,050

1,108

Location

 

 

Metropolitan

1,321

1,317

Regional

671

667

2019 and 2020 sample sizes for Australians aged 18 to 24 are small (n<100 interviews). These results should be interpreted with caution.

Chart base: Australian adults who used a device to access the internet in the past 6 months for personal use.

QA1. In the past 6 months, which of the following communication services have you used for personal purposes? See Table 2 notes for response options – Used an app for messages, for example, Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype; Used an app for video calls, for example, Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype; Used an app for voice calls, for example, Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype.

Note: ‘Metropolitan’ refers to those who live in Australian capital cities and ‘Regional’ refers to those who live in the rest of the state, as defined by the ABS’s Greater Capital City Statistical Area definition.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey, 2019 to 2020.

4/5. Use of communication apps: Which apps are used and number of apps used

Table 5: Research sample sizes for which communication apps were used in the past 6 months to make voice calls, video calls or send messages (by all respondents, age group, gender and location, 2017 to 2020)

 

Jun 2017

May 2018

May 2019

Jun 2020

All respondents

2,181

2,015

1,992

1,984

Age

 

 

 

 

18–24

136

108

91

81

25–34

289

251

252

265

35–44

315

269

298

308

45–54

379

362

365

310

55–64

486

425

395

414

65–74

405

431

403

405

75 and over

168

167

183

180

Gender

 

 

 

 

Male

1,009

934

937

870

Female

1,168

1,078

1,050

1,108

Location

 

 

 

 

Metropolitan

1,444

1,325

1,321

1,317

Regional

737

690

671

667

2019 and 2020 sample sizes for Australians aged 18 to 24 are small (n<100 interviews). These results should be interpreted with caution.

Chart base: Australian adults who used a device to access the internet in the past 6 months for personal use.

QE1. Which of the following apps, if any, have you used in the past 6 months to make voice calls, video calls or send messages? Apple iMessage; Facebook Messenger; FaceTime; Google Hangouts; Skype; Snapchat; Viber; WeChat; WhatsApp; Instagram; Zoom; Houseparty; Microsoft Teams; Webex; Slack; Other app (please specify); None/don’t use apps to make voice calls, video calls or send messages (exclusive); Don’t know (exclusive); Refused (exclusive).

Notes:

  1. The services in the response list are updated annually to reflect current usage, for example, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Houseparty, Webex and Slack were added in 2020.
  2. ‘Metropolitan’ refers to those who live in Australian capital cities and ‘Regional’ refers to those who live in the rest of the state, as defined by the ABS’s Greater Capital City Statistical Area definition.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey, 2017 to 2020.

6/7. Use of social networking sites/apps: Social networking sites/apps used and changes in activity since COVID-19 (social networking)

Table 6: Research sample sizes for Australian adults who used an app for social networking, and changes in social networking sites used since COVID-19 restrictions were introduced in March 2020 (by all respondents, age group, gender and location, 2020)

 

Jun 2020

All respondents

1,394

Age

 

18–24

70

25–34

222

35–44

252

45–54

239

55–64

290

65–74

229

75 and over

81

Gender

 

Male

548

Female

840

Location

 

Metropolitan

931

Regional

463

‘Don’t know’ and ‘refused’ responses are excluded from analysis.

Sample sizes for Australians aged 18 to 24 and 75 and over are small (n<100 interviews). These results should be interpreted with caution.

Chart base: Australian adults who used an app for social networking in the past 6 months.

QE2. What sites or apps have you used for social networking in the past 6 months? WhatsApp; Facebook (including Facebook Messenger); Instagram; YouTube; LinkedIn; Twitter; Reddit; Snapchat; Twitch; Tumblr; Pinterest; TikTok; Weibo; Some other site or app (please specify); Don’t know (exclusive); Refused (exclusive).

QE3. Which social networking site or app do you use most often? (As selected from QE1.)

QE4. Since the COVID-19 social and physical distancing restrictions were introduced in March 2020, how has your participation in social networking changed, or has it stayed about the same? It has decreased; It has stayed about the same; It has increased; First started this activity since March 2020; Don’t know; Refused.

Note: ‘Metropolitan’ refers to those who live in Australian capital cities and ‘Regional’ refers to those who live in the rest of the state, as defined by the ABS’s Greater Capital City Statistical Area definition.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey, 2020

8. Satisfaction with communication services

Table 7: Research sample sizes for consumer satisfaction with aspects of their mobile phone service (by all respondents, age group, gender and location, 2017 to 2020)

 

Jun 2017

May 2018

May 2019

Jun 2020

All respondents

2,230

2,064

2,034

1,982

Age

 

 

 

 

18–24

136

108

90

80

25–34

290

249

253

264

35–44

315

269

299

307

45–54

383

367

365

307

55–64

493

428

400

412

65–74

423

449

422

406

75 and over

186

191

200

185

Gender

 

 

 

 

Male

1,040

960

960

868

Female

1,186

1,101

1,068

1,108

Location

 

 

 

 

Metropolitan

1,470

1,349

1,344

1,316

Regional

760

715

690

666

‘Don’t know’ and ‘refused’ responses are excluded from analysis.

2019 and 2020 sample sizes for Australians aged 18 to 24 are small (n<100 interviews). These results should be interpreted with caution.

Chart base: Australian adults who have used a mobile phone in the past 6 months.

QC8. How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the following aspects of your mobile phone service? On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is very dissatisfied and 5 is very satisfied, how would you rate the following? Your mobile service overall; Customer service; Service reliability; Call costs; Billing information; Quality of voice calls; Data speed for mobile internet; Complaints handling; Data costs; Coverage; Call wait time when contacting your service provider. Response is based on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is very dissatisfied and 5 is very satisfied; Not applicable; Don’t know; Refused.

Note: ‘Metropolitan’ refers to those who live in Australian capital cities and ‘Regional’ refers to those who live in the rest of the state, as defined by the ABS’s Greater Capital City Statistical Area definition.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey, 2017 to 2020.

Table 8: Research sample sizes for consumer satisfaction with aspects of their home internet service (by all respondents, age group, gender and location, 2017 to 2020)

 

Jun 2017

May 2018

May 2019

Jun 2020

All respondents

2,109

1,976

1,994

1,894

Age

 

 

 

 

18–24

133

104

91

77

25–34

272

241

254

254

35–44

306

260

297

299

45–54

368

350

357

290

55–64

467

410

393

394

65–74

391

432

404

384

75 and over

169

176

193

180

Gender

 

 

 

 

Male

982

912

939

830

Female

1,123

1,061

1,051

1,059

Location

 

 

 

 

Metropolitan

1,403

1,296

1,325

1,259

Regional

706

680

669

635

‘Don’t know’ and ‘refused’ responses are excluded from analysis.

2019 and 2020 sample sizes for Australians aged 18 to 24 are small (n<100 interviews). These results should be interpreted with caution.

Chart base: Australian adults who have internet access in their household.

QD10. How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the following aspects of your home internet service? On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is very dissatisfied and 5 is very satisfied, how would you rate the following? Your internet service overall; Customer service; Service reliability; Cost; Billing information; Data speed; Technical support; Speed of repairing faults; Call wait time when contacting your service provider; Complaints handling. Response is based on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is very dissatisfied and 5 is very satisfied; Not applicable; Don’t know; Refused.

Note: ‘Metropolitan’ refers to those who live in Australian capital cities and ‘Regional’ refers to those who live in the rest of the state, as defined by the ABS’s Greater Capital City Statistical Area definition.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey, 2017 to 2020.

Table 9: Research sample sizes for consumer satisfaction with aspects of their fixed-line phone service (by all respondents, age group, gender and location, 2017 to 2020)

 

Jun 2017

May 2018

May 2019

Jun 2020

All respondents

1,398

1,176

997

788

Age

 

 

 

 

18–24

43

29

24

14

25–34

66

37

24

22

35–44

128

88

66

57

45–54

263

208

167

106

55–64

349

274

237

187

65–74

360

364

302

247

75 and over

186

174

176

150

Gender

 

 

 

 

Male

620

521

450

340

Female

777

655

547

448

Location

 

 

 

 

Metropolitan

886

737

628

503

Regional

512

439

369

285

‘Don’t know’ and ‘refused’ responses are excluded from analysis.

Sample sizes for Australians aged 18 to 24, 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 are small (n<100 interviews). These results should be interpreted with caution.

Chart base: Australian adults who have used a fixed-line phone in the past 6 months.

QD10. How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the following aspects of your household’s fixed-line telephone service? On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is very dissatisfied and 5 is very satisfied, how would you rate the following? Your fixed-line phone service overall; Customer service; Service reliability; Call costs; Billing information; Line rental costs; Quality of call; Complaints handling; Call wait time when contacting your service provider. Response is based on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is very dissatisfied and 5 is very satisfied; Not applicable; Don’t know; Refused.

Note: ‘Metropolitan’ refers to those who live in Australian capital cities and ‘Regional’ refers to those who live in the rest of the state, as defined by the ABS’s Greater Capital City Statistical Area definition.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey, 2017 to 2020

Data analysis

The key findings in the Communications and media in Australia: How we communicate interactive report describe the data and show how we interpret it.

Results from the data sets were analysed using:

  • descriptive analysis techniques
  • demographics, including age, gender and locational factors.

Guidelines for reading the digital report:

  • All percentages are based on weighted survey estimates.
  • All percentage labels are rounded to the nearest whole number. As a result, there may be discrepancies between sums of the component items in a table or chart, and the total.
  • Base sizes are shown as the unweighted number of respondents on which the weighted estimates and proportions are based.
  • Categories with low sample sizes (less than n=100 interviews) should be interpreted with caution.  
  • Terminology of ‘use of an activity’ in key findings refers to measuring prevalence of an activity being undertaken, rather than frequency. 
  • All key findings highlight results that have been tested for statistical significance at the 95% confidence level.
  • The ACMA annual consumer survey research:
    • Often asked about ‘the past 6 months’ – this is the period before the data was collected. For the 2020 survey, this was from approximately December 2019 to June 2020.
    • Included some questions that have been filtered depending on the respondent’s previous responses (for example, a question asked only of those who undertook an internet activity in the past 6 months). This is noted in descriptive language in the chart’s ‘base’ notes and the corresponding methodology tables. Care needs to be taken when interpreting the results so that the data is read in the correct context.
    • Included some questions that invited a multiple response. Total responses may sum to more than 100%.
    • In some cases, ‘don’t know’, ‘refused’ and other responses with only small levels of responses are not shown or excluded from the analysis. These are noted in the methodology tables.
Back to top
ONLINE ENQUIRY