Fibre is catching up on DSL, but mobile data rules the world

29 Jun 2018

Image: Andrew Shiels/Shutterstock

Mobile data usage doubled in OECD area in 2017, but fibre is the dark horse to keep an eye on in the fixed line space.

Mobile data has grown to more than 102pc penetration in the OECD, according to the latest information from the organisation’s broadband portal.

Mobile broadband subscriptions grew by 80m globally, or 6.1pc, in 2017.

However, fibre is the dark horse that is transforming the world of fixed line telecoms.

DSL makes up 41pc of fixed broadband subscriptions, but fibre is gradually catching up, as it now accounts for 23.3pc of all subscriptions after a 15pc rise during 2017. Meanwhile, cable makes up the rest at 32.5pc.

Mobile data

As of December 2017, there were 1.37bn mobile broadband subscriptions in a population of 1.34bn inhabitants – 102.4 subscriptions per 100 people.

Greece (24pc) saw the fastest growth, followed by Chile (23.4pc), Poland (19pc) and Belgium (15pc). Meanwhile, the countries with the highest mobile broadband penetration were Japan, Finland, Estonia and the US.

Ireland is nestled just slightly below the OECD mobile broadband average, at 101.1pc penetration. When it comes to bundled data and voice subscriptions, Ireland is at 95pc penetration, ahead of the OECD average of 92pc.

Fixed line

Fixed line broadband subscriptions in OECD countries were at 408m in December 2017, up from 393m the year before, with an average of 30.4 subscriptions per 100 people.

Switzerland boasted a penetration rate of 46.8 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, followed by Denmark (42.9pc), France (42.8pc), the Netherlands (42.1pc) and Korea (41.2pc).

The machines are coming

Data on machine-to-machine (M2M) communications (eg for internet-connected vehicles) show that Sweden, New Zealand, Norway and the US are the frontrunners when it comes to the number of M2M SIM cards used per 100 people – however, there is the caveat that data is not yet fully comparable for all of the countries.

Sweden has 114 M2M SIM cards per 100 people, which is much higher than most OECD countries that provided data. This is partly due to the use of these cards in other countries by a Swedish operator.

M2M/embedded mobile cellular subscriptions rose by more than 36pc in 2017 in the countries were the data could be obtained.

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