Australia’s e-readiness falls squarely within World 1 standards. In many ways the country is among the world’s leaders in terms of technology adoption, with a large majority of Australians accessing the Web regularly, and mobile phone penetration standing at 96% in 2006. The country is ranked fourth in the world for e-readiness by the Economist Intelligence Unit, but nevertheless is at a crossroads regarding Internet infrastructure and future development.
The combination of vast geographic distances between major cities and concentration of the country’s 20 million people in the coastal areas makes it at once easy and difficult to provide connectivity to all Australians. Infrastructure in coastal Australia is nearly ubiquitous, but somewhat outdated and slow. Extending high-speed infrastructure to the rest of the continent has been stalled by disagreements between the federal government and the nation’s leading fiber-optic providers; if these issues cannot be worked out, it could limit the potential for future bandwidth-intensive applications, and put Australia’s e-readiness ranking at risk as other countries upgrade their own infrastructures.
3 KEY FINDINGS
- Australia is one of the most connected countries in the world, but the cost of connecting its vast rural regions to fiber optics could limit the potential for bandwidth- intensive services, such as IPTV and telemedicine.
- Australiansareavide-commerce participants.
- Socialnetworkingsitessuchas Facebook and MySpace are gaining a strong following, though from a low base.
3 DEMOGRAPHICS OF INTERNET USERS
Australian Internet users are most likely to be:
- Under65—AmongAustraliansaged18–24,95% regularly use the Web; 91% of those 25–34 also use it regularly; and 84% of those 35–49 use it regularly. Moreover, a striking 66% of those aged 50–64 are regular Web users. Just 30% of Australians over 64 use the Internet regularly.
- White-collarworkers—Whensortedbyprofession,93% of managers and professionals and 85% of clerical, sales, and service workers are regular Internet users, compared with 64% of tradespeople and 72% of laborers, transport workers, and production workers.
- Well-educated—Nearly90%ofAustralianswitha university degree regularly use the Internet, compared with 70% of high school graduates and just 48% of those with no high school diploma.
3 BUSINESS IMPLICATIONS
- Reliable,fastbroadbandaccessmayrepresenta tipping point that prompts larger numbers of Australians to adopt bandwidth-intensive applications. Industries and services that depend on high-speed access may find new opportunities once these changes occur.
- Products,processes,andservicesgearedtothe current ways Australians use the Web are likely to be most well received. A service that appeals to the specific needs of eBay sellers, for instance, might become popular.
- Australians’loveofe-commercesuggests opportunities for supportive products and services in other aspects of Australian life, for instance, for securely accommodating and organizing large packages inside or outside homes, cars, or offices.