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OECD Broadband Stats Released

The OECD released it’s quarterly Broadband penetration update for December 2006. It’s an excellent summary of broadband penetration even though it doesn’t include China or India. The most interesting aspect is the breakout of broadband lines by technology on a country by country basis.

Here are the key takeaways.

  • FTTH is broken out for the first time. Yea! And they claim to properly account for VDSL in building vs. pedestal. Double Yea!
  • Broadband subs grew from 157M to 197M in the last 12 months. The 25% growth is good, but is really impressive is the fact 40M broadband connections were deployed in a single year.
  • I estimate that 1 of every 8 new connections were FTTH (+5M)
  • DSL went down in Japan and Korea

All of the data is well graphed and the Excel tables are downloadable. A nice touch.

Now for the editorial….

In true continental fashion, the graphs illustrate broadband penetration rates per 100 people, not absolute numbers. This way the gigantic behemoth that is the US can be tamed and brought in-line with countries like Iceland and Denmark.

Every quarterly OECD release results in a cavalcade of editorials trumpeting the decline of the US position, and the need for a coherent national broadband policy. I’m suspicious of such endeavors to a fault and I’m not concerned that Norway and Switzerland outrank us by a slim margin.

The real measurement that should be made isn’t broadband penetration, but how many people would like broadband and cannot have it. The problem might be that Americans don’t care as much about broadband as others. But hey, why get statistical reality get in the way of good political haymaking?

Companies only invest risk capital when the potential returns warrant it, regardless of the wishes and magical wand waving of pundits and politicos in Brussels or Washington DC. What has me worried is that the government and bloggers believe everyone wants a broadband connection and will find a way for you and me to pay to give it to them. In essence, that is what any broadband policy ultimately will be.

Enough editorializing. It’s good data.

Update: US State Department questions accuracy of results.


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  1. Andrew,

    The OECD commentary to the report seems to imply that a family of 3 occupying a single dwelling is counted as one subscriber, but 3 inhabitatnts. Is that right?

    If this is correct, then countries such as Denmark or Netherlands
    or even Korea are pretty much saturated in terms of broadband coverage. In Korea, with 29.1 subscribers per 100 inhabitants, and with average household size of 3.3 (1995 data), we have 96.03% of population already having a broadband connection. How sad.

    Please, tell me I am reading it wrong.


    Posted by Glen K. | April 25, 2007, 1:27 AM
  2. You are reading it correctly.

    As you well know this does not mean a lack of deployment as these countries will rotate technology… Korea is rotating into FTTH.

    There is something fishy about these numbers though. Like why is internet service in Europe so hard to find if the penetration is so high?

    Posted by Andrew Schmitt | April 25, 2007, 7:53 AM
  3. much better stats from point topic requires registration but data is free


    Posted by colin w | April 26, 2007, 1:45 PM
  4. Andrew, would you like to elaborate on your statement that Internet service is hard to find in Europe?

    – Zed

    Posted by Zed | April 26, 2007, 4:33 PM
  5. Sure. From a business traveler perspective service is much spottier than in the US. I spent two weeks in the south of France last summer, in a total of 10 hotels. Only one had wi-fi. Finding wifi in Europe is a chore. In the US, it’s everywhere.

    Now, getting broadband DSL to the home may be another story. But the ubiquity of connectivity in Europe appears lower to me.

    Posted by Andrew Schmitt | April 26, 2007, 8:40 PM
  6. OK, Andrew. Did you ever consider that you were simply looking for connectivity in the wrong way?

    I think the following maps say it all:

    Now just for kicks, compare that to your home state :)

    Who needs patchy and expensive WLAN connectivity when you have flat-rate 3G HSDPA? Ubiquity trumps raw bitrate in wireless, especially when served with a side order of mobility, low price and convenience.

    Hotel WLAN is a bit like hotel telephones, why bother when you are going to use your cell phone anyway?

    – Zed

    Posted by Zed | April 27, 2007, 12:51 AM
  7. Cable TV dominates the US. It goes into every home and the very clock of society is set by TV content. As Darth Vader said: The ability to cover a planet with fiber is insignificant next to the power of Seinfeld.

    Posted by Bandgap | April 27, 2007, 2:18 PM
  8. The revolution will not be televised.

    Posted by Andrew Schmitt | April 27, 2007, 2:34 PM
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