Europe continues to lead broadband access

Broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants. Source: OECD 

More than one in three Danes and Dutch have a broadband account. Five other European countries and Korea are close behind, according to data released yesterday by the OECD.

The number of broadband subscribers in OECD countries increased 26 per cent from 157 million in December 2005 to 197 million in December 2006.

This growth increased broadband penetration rates in the OECD from 13.5 per 100 inhabitants in December 2005 to 16.9 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants one year later.

Topping the list was Denmark with 31.9, closely followed by the Netherlands at 31.8. Canada was in ninth place with a rate of 23.8, up from 21.0 last year. The USA was 15th with a rate of 19.6, up from 16.3. New Zealand was 21st, surging to 14.0 from 8.1.

Worth noting, however: the OECD defines broadband as a download speed of at least 256 kbps, which is hardly going to excite anyone wanting the full multimedia experience. And, of course, you don’t necessarily get what is advertised by your ISP anyway. In New Zealand, where advertised download speeds of up to 3.5 Mbps are routinely ridiculed by tech commentators as inadequate, I was never able to get more than about 2.4 Mbps, and frequently had to make do with 800 kbps, on my urban ADSL connection.

Highlights of the OECD report:

  • European countries have continued their advance with high broadband penetration rates. In December 2006, eight countries (Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Korea, Switzerland,  Finland, Norway and Sweden) led the OECD in broadband penetration, each with at least 26 subscribers per 100 inhabitants.
  • Denmark and the Netherlands are the first two countries in the OECD  to surpass 30 subscribers per 100 inhabitants.
  • The strongest per-capita subscriber growth over the year comes from Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Ireland. Each country added more than 5.8 subscribers per 100 inhabitants during the past year.
  • Operators in several countries continue with their upgrades to fibre. Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and Fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) subscriptions now comprise nearly 7% of all broadband connections in the OECD and the percentage is growing. Korea and Japan each have more than 6 fibre-based broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants.
  • Japan leads the OECD in fibre connections directly to the home with 7.9 million fibre-to-the-home subscribers in December 2006. Fibre subscribers alone in Japan outnumber total broadband subscribers in 23 of the 30 OECD countries.
  • The total number of ADSL subscriptions continues to fall in Korea and Japan as more users upgrade to fibre-based connections.
  • DSL continues to be the leading platform in 28 OECD countries. Cable modem subscribers outnumber DSL in Canada and the United States.
  • The United States has the largest total number of broadband subscribers in the OECD at 58.1 million. US broadband subscribers now represent 29% of all broadband connections in the OECD.
  • Canada continues to lead the G7 group of industrialized countries in broadband penetration
  • The breakdown of broadband technologies in December 2006 is as follows:
    – DSL : 62%
    – Cable modem : 29%
    – FTTH/FTTB : 7%
    – Other (e.g. satellite, fixed wireless, powerline communication) : 2%

Lots more charts and graphs at the OECD Broadband Stats site.