As wireless booms, OECD warns of slowdown in fixed broadband

1 Dec 2011

Demand from new wireless broadband subscribers is driving growth in high-speed internet in OECD countries but the latest data shows a slowdown in fixed subscriptions in the first half of 2011. Ireland is 25th in the world for broadband penetration.

The latest data from the OECD shows that new wireless broadband subscriptions maintained double-digit growth, rising by 14pc from the last half of 2010. Year-on-year, wireless subscriptions rose by 26pc.

Fixed wired broadband subscriptions increased, by only 2.25pc between December 2010 and June 2011 (5.83pc year-on-year), down from 6pc in the last half of 2010. Today, there are 309m fixed subscribers in the OECD.

Ireland still below average for fixed broadband connectivity

Ireland ranked 25th in the world in terms of fixed wired broadband per 100 inhabitants, with an average of 21.5 fixed lines to every 100 people, comprising 16.1 DSL connections per 100 and 5.1 cable broadband connections per 100.

Globally, Switzerland and the Netherlands top the fixed broadband ranking (with more than 38 lines per 100 inhabitants). The OECD average is 25.1.

Korea (99.3), Sweden (93.6), Japan (80.0) and Finland (79.1) are the leading countries in wireless broadband penetration, some of them nearly doubling the OECD average of 47.9.

The share of DSL and cable subscription remains stable (58.8pc and 29.5pc). Fibre-to-the-home subscriptions continued to grow and now represent 13pc of broadband subscription (3.5pc growth in six months).

Nordic countries, with among the highest fixed broadband penetration, demonstrate very low growth in this segment and even slight falls in Finland and Iceland. They also have among the highest wireless broadband penetration rates, which indicates the overall complementary nature of these networks.

New Zealand saw a rapid rise in both fixed and wireless broadband, moving to 12th from 16th in the broadband ranking, boosted by the entry of a third mobile network operator, 2Degrees, in 2010.

Demand is also likely to grow in France in 2012, with the entry of a new wireless operator, Iliad, bringing increasing competition in prices and services to the market.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years