Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New statistics - old adage

As I foreshadowed the ABS has today released the Internet Activity in Australia data that updates us a year on the ACCC report released last week.

Not that you'd know immediately from the media release which was titled "Mobile wireless connections more popular than DSL". This raises the important question of what we mean by "more popular". What they go on to say is there are now more wireless broadband services than DSL.

The graph they provide on their highlights page is a version of the proportions of internet connections by technology. Mine appears below.

As a proportion DSL looks like it is a technology the use of which is declining. The better picture is obtained by a graph of the actual service numbers by technology, shown below.

Indeed there are more wireless services than DSL, but not actually more than fixed when the 912 thousand cable and fibre services are considered. These are included in Other in the graph - which includes the 106 thousand satellite services. Interestingly both satellite and cable numbers declined over the last half year while DSL numbers continued to increase.

But popularity implies use not just existence. And it is here that the information noted with such relish in the ACCC's report becomes important.

The amount of data downloaded per service (the data is all data for the preceding three months) continues to rise rapidly for fixed broadband services but is relatively static for wireless. To put it into overall context - 254,947 terabytes were downloaded by fixed customers, while only 19,149 terabytes were downloaded by wireless.

I know which I would choose to define as popular.

Finally for this post I continue to wonder about the veracity of the ABS statistic. It is derived from data provided by ISPs, but the latest release has for the irst time in two and a half years revealed the number of ISPs by size category with a total of 421. The TIO counted 205 members as straight ISPs and a further 405 as Telephone and Internet Service Providers as at 1 January 2011.

I want to understand the source of that discrepancy.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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