ACT News

Canberrans are Australia's most internet-connected citizens

ACT residents are online more than people in other parts of the country, new figures show.

The ACT is home to Australia's most internet-connected citizens, who also spend the most amount of time online, new Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show.

Helped by a small and centralised population, 94 per cent of Canberrans have internet at home, well above the national average of 86 per cent.

Hamish Insley, 12, has a variety of devices he uses to access the internet.
Hamish Insley, 12, has a variety of devices he uses to access the internet. Photo: Jamila Toderas

ACT homes used an average of six devices to access the internet in 2014-15, again above other states and territories, but only slightly.

For Australian households with children under 15, the average number of devices to access the internet was seven, while for homes without it was five.

For the first time, the bureau used its household use of information technology report to measure how much time people were spending online.

People in the ACT spent an average of 11 hours per week online at home, above the other states and territories but only just.


For Australians in general, that number jumped to 18 hours a week for 15-17 year olds, dropping to seven hours a week for over-65s.

Children and teenagers were shown to be a real driver of internet access.

Nationwide, 97 per cent of homes with children under 15 were internet connected, compared to 82 per cent of homes without children under 15.

Hamish Insley, 12, uses his computer every day to access the internet, and he also uses an iPad, a phone and an Xbox, but not as often.

That, together with other family devices, puts him at the national average.

Hamish's mother puts limits on his use, which he agrees is a good idea. "If you did too much then you can not be social, go outside and all of that," he said.

At the other end of the country's internet use is his grandmother, Denise Wilson.

Mrs Wilson and her husband have a desktop computer each, which she used every other day for emails and bookkeeping.

She believed limits on children's internet use were important.

"They can get stuck into stuff on the internet more than people in other parts of the country or on the computer ... where instead if he's only allowed to have it for an hour a day, he's more inclined to get the tennis racquets and go play outside.

"It's just how long we can convince [Hamish] this is a good idea."

About 96.8 per cent of Canberrans are connected through either a desktop or laptop computer, while 87 per cent had access through mobile.

For the first time in 10 years, the bureau reported on reasons why Australians didn't have internet at home, of which there were 1.3 million in 2014-15.

Of the 9000 Canberra homes without internet access, 3600 said they had no need, 3200 said they lacked the confidence or knowledge, 1900 said the cost and about 600 said it was because of privacy concerns.

While the ACT rates highly on the measure of internet access at home, concerns around access tend to surround disparity of speed between different regions.

Faster internet with the NBN is available in the far north, in Gungahlin, for example. But Monash and Theodore in the south have some of the lowest ratings for availability and quality of broadband in the nation.

The bureau figures also show the internet divide between regional and metropolitan Australia continues, with 88 per cent of households in major cities having access, compared to 79 per cent of those in remote parts of Australia.