Broadband wind rises

©David Rooney

The number of broadband subscribers in the OECD rose to 235 million by December 2007, up 18% from 200 million subscribers in December 2006.This growth increased broadband penetration rates to 20 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, up from 16.9 in December 2006.
Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Korea and Sweden lead the OECD with broadband penetration well above the OECD average, each surpassing the threshold of 30 subscribers per 100 inhabitants.Luxembourg, Germany and Ireland saw the strongest per-capita subscriber growth over the year, with each country adding more than 5 subscribers per 100 inhabitants during the past year. On average, the OECD area added 3 subscribers per 100 inhabitants over the year.The US was the largest broadband market in the OECD, with 69.9 million subscribers. US broadband subscribers represent 30% of all broadband connections in the OECD.Upgrading to fibre-based connections continued, with fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) subscriptions now comprising 8% of all broadband connections in the OECD area. Fibre connections account for 40% of all Japanese broadband subscriptions and 34% in Korea.The spread of broadband, while impressive, was uneven, particularly for rural areas, the OECD notes in a recent report, and calls on governments to promote competition and give consumers more choice. In particular, any new infrastructure built using government funds should be open access–meaning that access to that network is provided on non-discriminatory terms to other market participants–while efforts should be made to avoid creating monopolicies. Governments should also encourage new networks, particularly upgrades to fibre-optic lines. Governments should discourage harmful business conduct and practices such as misleading advertising and unjustifiably long consumer lock-in periods (see also “Widening broadband’s reach”).See www.oecd.org/sti/ict/broadband©OECD Observer No 268 June 2008


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