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How we use the internet: Methodology

We used the following methodology to produce the Communications and media in Australia: How we use the internet 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

Roy Morgan Single Source survey

Roy Morgan Research’s Single Source database is based on interviews with Australians aged 18 and over conducted between July 2016 to June 2020. The data is weighted to represent up to 19.8 million Australians as at June 2020.

Figures in the report refer to 12-month periods ending June (financial year).

Table 2: Roy Morgan Single Source research sample sizes for Australians aged 18 and over in the 12 months to June for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020

 

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total sample (n)

13,884

14,056

13,814

14,389

More information is available online on the Roy Morgan Single Source Survey.

Research sample sizes

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

1. Home internet access

Table 3: Research sample sizes for Australian adults who live in households with internet access (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

 

 

 

 

18–54

1,131

997

1,014

965

55 and over

1,141

1,106

1,048

1,023

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

Chart base: Australian adults aged 18 and over.

QA2. Does your household have internet access? Yes; No; Don’t know; Refused.  

Notes:

  1. ‘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’ Greater Capital City Statistical Area definition.
  2. Responses to this question may over-estimate the number of people with an internet connection to the household as responses may include internet accessed using any type of connection and any device, including mobile data via mobile phone.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey, 2017 to 2020.

2. Fixed home broadband connections

Table 4: Research sample sizes for Australian adults who live in households with a fixed home broadband internet connection by type (by all respondents and location, 12 months to June for 2017 to 2020)

 

Jul 2016 to Jun 2017

Jul 2017 to Jun 2018

Jul 2018 to Jun 2019

Jul 2019 to Jun 2020

All respondents (total sample size)

13,884

14,056

13,814

14,389

Households with a fixed home broadband connection

All respondents

8,760

9,351

9,230

10,331

Location

 

 

 

 

Capital cities

5,148

5,628

5,390

6,553

Country

3,612

3,723

3,840

3,778

Chart base: Households with a fixed home broadband internet connection (does not include mobile phone or mobile broadband).

Q. Which home broadband connection does your household have?

Notes:

  1. ‘Capital cities’ refers to those who live in Australian capital cities, excluding Darwin. ‘Regional areas’ refers to those who live outside Australian capital cities but includes Darwin.
  2. Changes to Roy Morgan Single Source due to COVID-19: From mid-March 2020, Roy Morgan’s Single Source Product Poll survey transitioned from a paper-based book to an online self-complete survey. Respondents for this survey are recruited from the Roy Morgan Establishment survey. The Establishment survey also transitioned from solely face-to-face interviewing in March 2020 to a multi-mode approach of landline, mobile phone, online and (when available post-COVID) face-to-face interviewing. This approach is designed to provide the best possible sample frame to represent all Australians aged 14+.

Questions asked about fixed home internet connection type remained consistent throughout the transition to ensure results could be effectively analysed over time. In addition, weighting remained consistent through the transition.

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source.

3. Online vs offline Australians

Table 5: Research sample sizes for Australian adults who used or did not use the internet in the past 6 months (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

 

 

 

 

18–54

1,131

997

1,014

965

55 and over

1,141

1,106

1,048

1,023

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

Chart base: Australian adults aged 18 and over.

QD5. Which of the following devices have you used to access the internet in the past 6 months, for personal use? Desktop computer; Laptop computer; Mobile phone; Tablet like an iPad; eReader like Amazon (Kindle), Kobo; Portable games console – for example, PSP or Nintendo Switch; Other games console – for example Xbox, PlayStation or Wii; Television or Smart TV; Personal video recorder (PVR) such as Foxtel IQ, Fetch or similar device; Digital media player such as Chromecast, Apple TV or Fetch; Voice-controlled smart speakers such as Google Home, Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod; Something else (please specify); None/don’t use internet (exclusive); Don’t know (exclusive); Refused (exclusive). .

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.

4. Devices connected to the internet

Table 6: Research sample sizes for Australian adults who used a device to access the internet in the past 6 months, and by type of device (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

 

 

 

 

18–54

 1,131

 997

 1,014

 965

55 and over

 1,141

 1,106

 1,048

 1,023

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

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

QD6. On average, in the past 6 months how often did you use the following devices to access the internet for personal purposes? Statements: Desktop computer; Laptop computer; Mobile phone; Tablet like an iPad; eReader like Amazon (Kindle), Kobo; Portable games console – for example, a PSP or Nintendo Switch; Other games console – for example, Xbox, PlayStation or Wii; Television or Smart TV; Personal video recorder (PVR) such as Foxtel IQ, Fetch or similar device; Digital media player such as Chromecast, Apple TV or Fetch; Voice-controlled smart speakers such as Google Home, Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod; Something else (response from QD5 for something else). Responses: Multiple times a day; Once a day; Weekly; Monthly; Less often than monthly; Never; 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.

 

5. Number of devices connected to the internet

Table 7: Research sample sizes for number of types of devices used to access the internet in the past 6 months (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

 

 

 

 

18–54

 1,131

 997

 1,014

 965

55 and over

 1,141

 1,106

 1,048

 1,023

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

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

QD5. Which of the following devices have you used to access the internet in the past 6 months, for personal use? See Table 5 notes for response options.

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.

6/7. Smart devices and number of smart devices connected to the internet

Table 8: Research sample sizes for Australian adults who had an internet-connected smart device, and number of types of smart devices (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

 

 

 

 

18–54

1,131

997

1,014

965

55 and over

1,141

1,106

1,048

1,023

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

Chart base: Australian adults aged 18 and over.

QD7. Which of the following smart devices do you have connected to the internet? This excludes computers, tablets and mobile phones. Smart TV; Smart fridge; Wearable devices such as smart watches or a Fitbit; Smart lighting; Security cameras; Security system; Smart dishwasher; Heating or cooling system; Voice-controlled smart speakers such as Google Home, Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod; GPS tracking tag or device; Something else (please specify); None/don’t use internet (exclusive).

QA11. What type of television(s) do you have in your home? Smart TV; Standard TV; Don’t know; Refused.

Notes:

  1. Smart TV ownership was asked as a separate question in 2020, including a detailed description of types of television. ‘Smart TV’, ‘Total used’ and ‘None’ are not directly comparable to responses on smart devices in previous years.
  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.
  3. ‘Don’t know’ and ‘Refused’ answers not shown in charts, therefore data may not add to 100.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey, 2017 to 2020.

8. Frequency of internet use

Table 9: Research sample sizes for frequency of internet use by Australian adults (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

 

 

 

 

18–54

 1,131

 997

 1,014

 965

55 and over

 1,141

 1,106

 1,048

 1,023

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

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

QD6. On average, in the past 6 months how often did you use the following devices to access the internet for personal purposes? See Table 6 notes for response options.  

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.

 

9. Volume of data downloaded

For more information, you can access the Internet Activity Record Keeping Rule (RKR) content on the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's website. 

10. Activities performed online

Table 10: Research sample sizes for activities performed online in the past 6 months (by all respondents, age group, gender and location, 2019 to 2020)

 

May 2019

Jun 2020

All respondents

 1,992

 1,984

Age

 

 

18–54

 1,014

 965

55 and over

 1,048

 1,023

Gender

 

 

Male

 971

 879

Female

 1,090

 1,124

Location

 

 

Metropolitan

 1,366

 1,335

Regional

 701

 674

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

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

QD8. Below is a range of internet-based activities. Please indicate whether or not you have done any of the following in the past 6 months at home or elsewhere. See Table 11 for response options.

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.

 

11. Changes to internet activities since COVID-19

Table 11: Research sample sizes for change in participation in online activities undertaken since COVID-19 restrictions were introduced in March 2020 (by all respondents, age group, gender and location, 2020)

 

Jun 2020

All respondents

 

Sending or receiving email

1,947

Banking or paying bills online

1,786

Selling goods or services online

573

Buying goods or services online

1,649

Watching video content online such as subscription services, catch-up TV, live streaming or YouTube.

1,728

Accessing audio content online such as internet radio, podcasts, Apple Music or Spotify

1,306

Online gambling

138

Purchasing lottery tickets online

358

General web browsing or researching online*

1,908

Accessing news and current affairs online

1,691

Working online from home

896

Studying online from home

556

Telehealth consultation with a doctor, physio or other medical professional via video conferencing, phone or email. Excludes veterinarians.

771

Legal, financial or other professional consultation online (excluding medical)

253

Posting or engaging with content online such as clicking on ‘like’, posting comments, contributing to blogs or reviews, or uploading photos or videos

1,384

Video conferencing or video calling via an app or web-based service such as Zoom

1,281

Age (18–54)

 

Sending or receiving email

955

Banking or paying bills online

919

Selling goods or services online

363

Buying goods or services online

869

Watching video content online such as subscription services, catch-up TV, live streaming or YouTube.

929

Accessing audio content online such as internet radio, podcasts, Apple Music or Spotify

791

Online gambling

87

Purchasing lottery tickets online

191

General web browsing or researching online*

949

Accessing news and current affairs online

890

Working online from home

592

Studying online from home

393

Telehealth consultation with a doctor, physio or other medical professional via video conferencing, phone or email. Excludes veterinarians.

359

Legal, financial or other professional consultation online (excluding medical)

106

Posting or engaging with content online such as clicking on ‘like’, posting comments, contributing to blogs or reviews, or uploading photos or videos

785

Video conferencing or video calling via an app or web-based service such as Zoom

740

Age (55 and over)

 

Sending or receiving email

971

Banking or paying bills online

850

Selling goods or services online

206

Buying goods or services online

762

Watching video content online such as subscription services, catch-up TV, live streaming or YouTube.

782

Accessing audio content online such as internet radio, podcasts, Apple Music or Spotify

501

Online gambling

50

Purchasing lottery tickets online

164

General web browsing or researching online*

938

Accessing news and current affairs online

784

Working online from home

295

Studying online from home

152

Telehealth consultation with a doctor, physio or other medical professional via video conferencing, phone or email. Excludes veterinarians.

405

Legal, financial or other professional consultation online (excluding medical)

143

Posting or engaging with content online such as clicking on ‘like’, posting comments, contributing to blogs or reviews, or uploading photos or videos

586

Video conferencing or video calling via an app or web-based service such as Zoom

527

Gender (male)

 

Sending or receiving email

854

Banking or paying bills online

790

Selling goods or services online

260

Buying goods or services online

734

Watching video content online such as subscription services, catch-up TV, live streaming or YouTube.

764

Accessing audio content online such as internet radio, podcasts, Apple Music or Spotify

585

Online gambling

88

Purchasing lottery tickets online

190

General web browsing or researching online*

840

Accessing news and current affairs online

752

Working online from home

412

Studying online from home

241

Telehealth consultation with a doctor, physio or other medical professional via video conferencing, phone or email. Excludes veterinarians.

269

Legal, financial or other professional consultation online (excluding medical)

124

Posting or engaging with content online such as clicking on ‘like’, posting comments, contributing to blogs or reviews, or uploading photos or videos

567

Video conferencing or video calling via an app or web-based service such as Zoom

550

Gender (female)

 

Sending or receiving email

1,087

Banking or paying bills online

990

Selling goods or services online

312

Buying goods or services online

909

Watching video content online such as subscription services, catch-up TV, live streaming or YouTube.

959

Accessing audio content online such as internet radio, podcasts, Apple Music or Spotify

717

Online gambling

50

Purchasing lottery tickets online

168

General web browsing or researching online*

1,062

Accessing news and current affairs online

934

Working online from home

479

Studying online from home

311

Telehealth consultation with a doctor, physio or other medical professional via video conferencing, phone or email. Excludes veterinarians.

499

Legal, financial or other professional consultation online (excluding medical)

129

Posting or engaging with content online such as clicking on ‘like’, posting comments, contributing to blogs or reviews, or uploading photos or videos

811

Video conferencing or video calling via an app or web-based service such as Zoom

727

Location (metropolitan)

 

Sending or receiving email

1,299

Banking or paying bills online

1,197

Selling goods or services online

379

Buying goods or services online

1,109

Watching video content online such as subscription services, catch-up TV, live streaming or YouTube.

1,168

Accessing audio content online such as internet radio, podcasts, Apple Music or Spotify

887

Online gambling

93

Purchasing lottery tickets online

243

General web browsing or researching online*

1,272

Accessing news and current affairs online

1,156

Working online from home

639

Studying online from home

395

Telehealth consultation with a doctor, physio or other medical professional via video conferencing, phone or email. Excludes veterinarians.

500

Legal, financial or other professional consultation online (excluding medical)

179

Posting or engaging with content online such as clicking on ‘like’, posting comments, contributing to blogs or reviews, or uploading photos or videos

926

Video conferencing or video calling via an app or web-based service such as Zoom

911

Location (regional)

 

Sending or receiving email

648

Banking or paying bills online

589

Selling goods or services online

194

Buying goods or services online

540

Watching video content online such as subscription services, catch-up TV, live streaming or YouTube.

560

Accessing audio content online such as internet radio, podcasts, Apple Music or Spotify

419

Online gambling

45

Purchasing lottery tickets online

115

General web browsing or researching online*

636

Accessing news and current affairs online

535

Working online from home

257

Studying online from home

161

Telehealth consultation with a doctor, physio or other medical professional via video conferencing, phone or email. Excludes veterinarians.

271

Legal, financial or other professional consultation online (excluding medical)

74

Posting or engaging with content online such as clicking on ‘like’, posting comments, contributing to blogs or reviews, or uploading photos or videos

458

Video conferencing or video calling via an app or web-based service such as Zoom

370

*2019 wording was ‘general web browsing or gathering information’.

Statements (for internet-based activity categories) reflect wording from the 2020 survey.

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

Sample sizes for online gambling by age group, gender and location and legal, financial or other professional consultation online for Australian adults living in regional locations are small (n<100 interviews). These results should be interpreted with caution.

Chart base: Australian adults who participated in at least one internet activity in the past 6 months and accessed the internet in the past 6 months for personal use.

QD8. Below is a range of internet-based activities. Please indicate whether or not you have done any of the following in the past 6 months at home or elsewhere. See Table 11 for response options.

QD17. Since the COVID-19 social and physical distancing restrictions were introduced in March 2020, how has your participation in the following activities 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.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey, 2020.

 

12. Main source of news

For more information, you can access the News and Media Research Centre – Digital News Report: Australia on the University of Canberra's website. 

 

13. Gambling activities performed online

Table 12: Research sample sizes for gambling activities performed online in the past 6 months (by all respondents, age group, gender and location, 2019 to 2020)

 

May 2019

Jun 2020

All respondents

361

425

Age

 

 

18–54

226

236

55 and over

135

185

Gender

 

 

Male

224

230

Female

137

195

Location

 

 

Metropolitan

244

284

Regional

117

141

For the category 'Sports betting (incl. eSports)':

  • for 2019, the response wording was 'Sports betting such as betting on football or eSports but not including horse or dog racing’
  • for 2020, the responses to ‘Sports betting such as football (not including horse or dog racing, or eSports)’ and ‘Betting on eSports’ are combined.

Chart base (right side): Australian adults who participated in online gambling or purchasing lottery tickets in the past 6 months and accessed the internet in the past 6 months for personal use.

QK1. Which of the following gambling activities, if any, have you undertaken online in the past 6 months? Lottery such as Oz Lotto, Powerball etc.; Lottoland or a similar service betting on results of the financial market indices; Pokies/slots; Sports betting such as betting on football (not including horse or dog racing, or eSports); Betting on fantasy sports; Betting on racing such as horse or dog races; Poker; Casino-style table games (excluding poker); Betting on eSports; Other (please specify); None of these (exclusive); 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, 2019 to 2020.

Data analysis

The key findings in the Communications and media in Australia: How we use the internet 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.
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