Telephone and internet access in the home
The proportion of the population with telephone access (either landline or cellphone) and internet access in the home.
Access to a telephone and access to communication via the internet helps to maintain social connectedness. It enables social contact with friends and family in the absence of frequent face-to-face contact. The telephone also ensures an adequate line of communication in times of need and emergency.
The internet is an important means of accessing a wide range of information and services. People who are unable to access information technologies or who are without the skills to use them run the risk of being excluded from possible social, educational, cultural and economic benefits. This may have adverse effects on their educational outcomes, employment prospects and other aspects of wellbeing.
Current level and trends
At the 2006 Census, 66 percent of people lived in households with access to the internet, a considerable increase from 43 percent in 2001.
The Household Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Survey provides more recent information on access to the internet, although it is at the household level rather than at the individual level. In the December 2009 quarter, 75 percent of households had internet access in the home, an increase from 65 percent in the December 2006 quarter.
At the 2006 Census, 98 percent of people lived in households with telephones, an increase from 96 percent in 2001. The 2006 Census collected information on cellphones and landline telephones separately for the first time. It showed that 79 percent of people lived in households with cellphones available in the dwelling all or most of the time, while 92 percent lived in households with landline telephones. The Household Use of ICT Survey showed that, in the December 2009 quarter, 85 percent of the population aged 15 years and over had the personal use of a mobile phone in the previous 12 months, up from 80 percent three years earlier.
Age and sex differences
There are only minor differences by age group in the proportions of the population aged under 65 years living in households with internet access, but the rates decrease markedly at older ages. In 2006, between 68 percent and 71 percent of age groups under 65 years lived in households with internet access, compared with 50 percent of those aged 65–74 years and 26 percent of those aged 75 years and over. However, between 2001 and 2006 those aged 65 years and over experienced a greater increase in internet access than younger people. While the proportion of the population with internet access in the home increased by one and a half times for people aged under 65 years between 2001 and 2006, it more than doubled for people aged 65 years and over.
Both the 2001 and 2006 censuses showed that people aged 45 years and over were slightly more likely than younger people to have telephone access in the household. However, the difference narrowed over the five-year period.
There is little difference between the sexes in telephone or internet access in the home, although at older ages men are more likely than women to have internet access. In 2006, 45 percent of males and 35 percent of females aged 65 years and over had access to the internet at home.
Table SC1.1 Proportion (%) of the population with telephone and internet access in the home, 2001 and 2006
|Age group (years)
|75 and over
|One parent with dependent children
|Two parents with dependent children
|All families with dependent children
Source: Statistics New Zealand, Census of Population and Dwellings, 2001 and 2006
Access to telephones increased from 88 percent to 94 percent among Māori and from 87 percent to 95 percent among Pacific peoples between 2001 and 2006. Telephone access for the European, Asian and Other ethnic groups increased slightly over this period, reaching 99 percent in 2006. In 2006, the difference in telephone access between Māori and Pacific peoples and the total population was larger for landline telephones than for cellphones.
Between 2001 and 2006, access to the internet increased from 25 percent to 47 percent among Māori and from 20 percent to 38 percent among Pacific peoples. These levels were still well below those of Asians (77 percent), the Other ethnic group (73 percent) and Europeans (70 percent) in 2006.
Differences by family type
Among families with dependent children, 98 percent had telephone access and 71 percent had internet access in their homes in 2006. One-parent families with dependent children were less likely than two-parent families with dependent children to have access to either telephones or the internet, but they experienced greater increases in access between 2001 and 2006. In 2006, 95 percent of one-parent families and 99 percent of two-parent families had access to telephones while 50 percent of one-parent families and 79 percent of two-parent families had access to the internet.
The Auckland and Wellington regions had the highest proportion of households with internet access in the December 2009 quarter (both 80 percent), followed by Canterbury (78 percent). Northland (65 percent), Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu-Whanganui (both 66 percent) had the lowest proportions of households with internet access.
International comparisons show the proportion of households with internet access, rather than the proportion of people living in households with internet access. By this measure, New Zealand compares relatively favourably with other countries, ranking eighth out of 30 OECD countries surveyed between 2005 and 2009. With 75 percent of households having internet access in 2009, New Zealand’s figure is higher than the OECD median of 66 percent. New Zealand is ranked above Australia (72 percent in 2008/2009), the United Kingdom (71 percent in 2008) and Canada (73 percent in 2007), and considerably above Ireland (63 percent in 2008) and the United States (62 percent in 2007).105
» View technical details about the telephone and internet access in the home indicator