Access to telecommunication systems is the ability of residents in a private dwelling to communicate, via telephone, fax and or the Internet, with people outside the dwelling and to use services provided through these media. This requires the machine to be in working order and for there to be a working connection.
Accessible telephones include those with fixed connections, cordless telephones, and some cell phones. A cell phone is counted as accessible if it is predominantly located in a private dwelling when household members are at home. For a fuller explanation of the distinction between an accessible and a non–accessible cell phone see the section on operational issues below. Also included as accessible telephones are those that have been modified with Braille buttons, hearing aid attachments or with other devices to assist use by people with disabilities.
Accessible fax or facsimile machines include those which are stand alone fax machines; those connected to another machine such as a telephone answering machine or mobile phone; a fax enabled computer.
Internet access includes access to the Internet with or without access to the World Wide Web.
Statistics New Zealand questions on access to telephones have, historically, been asked at the private dwelling or household level rather than of individuals. The advent of mobile cell phones has required a distinction to be drawn between cell phones which are, in general, accessible to household members and should, therefore, be counted in surveys and censuses, and those which are not generally accessible.
For example, imagine a two person household, a man and a woman, with one cell phone and no other telephone. They both work outside the home, the man taking the cell phone to and from work with him. Generally, they work the same hours and are at home at the same time. So, the cell phone is usually available for each household member to use when they are both at home and, for the purposes of this standard, it should be counted as an accessible telephone.
However, if the woman works at home and the cell phone is taken by the man to his place of work, the woman does not have access to a telephone, from within the dwelling, for a considerable part of the day. Therefore, for the purposes of this standard, the cell phone should not be counted as an accessible telephone.
Respondents are instructed to "count a cell phone that is here all or most of the time". It is unlikely that a household’s first choice of access to a telephone will be by cell phone, ie it is unlikely to be their only or main form of telephone access.
The purpose of this standard is to record respondents’ access to telecommunication systems from within their own private dwellings. There will be cases where a respondent will not have access from their own home but will be able to use a neighbour’s telephone, fax and/or Internet connection, or will have access at work, or through a system which is available to the public generally, eg a public telephone. Under this standard these means of access, outside of the respondent’s own dwelling, should not be counted as accessible.
This standard has been developed in response to the technological changes that have taken place in telecommunications in NZ society and to support the 2001 Census of Population and Dwellings obtaining information on access to telecommunication systems. It replaces the Statistical Standard for Access to a Telephone and is designed to gather information about a wider range of communication systems than was possible under that standard. A comparison of the classifications access to a telephone and access to telecommunication systems is included in Related classifications and standards.
As further rapid changes are expected in the technology of telecommunication systems, in the near future, this standard has not attempted to define access in terms of the technology that is being used. Data collected at one time will include the use of various levels of technological advancement and hence various levels of access to flow-on services. For example, telephone banking requires use of a touch–tone phone but information collected, using this standard, does not distinguish between touch-tone and dial telephones. Similarly, although Internet services can be accessed via a personal computer or through a television set with a modem and processor plug, this standard is designed to record the Internet access rather than the method of access.