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Competition good for broadband - OECD

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The threat of competition from wireless broadband providers is forcing incumbent telcos to speed-up the roll-out of DSL services.

What's more, incumbent that fail to react to competitive pressures will face losing punters as they shop around for alternative broadband and telecoms providers.

That's just one of the themes examined in an OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) report charting The Development of Broadband Access in Rural and Remote Areas.

For example, the report says: "One of the factors driving DSL availability in Denmark to among the highest rates in the OECD was the threat posed by fixed wireless.

"In Denmark, Sonofon's fixed wireless network covers 96 per cent of the country's territory and 99 per cent of its population. Incumbents are reacting to broadband wireless developments in two ways. One is to further extend DSL ahead of schedule and the other is to adopt the technology themselves."

The OECD report is big on competition finding that the uptake of high-speed Net access "continues to gain momentum across the OECD area". By December 2003, for instance, there were more than 82m subscribers to broadband services – up from 3m at the end of 1999 - making broadband one of the fastest growing communication services experienced in the OECD.

Said the report: "The main difference from earlier experience in the roll out of communication services is that broadband access is being developed in a competitive market. By way of contrast, the first-decade mobile cellular market was characterised by monopolies and duopolies.

"Just as competition dramatically escalated the growth of mobile communications in the late 1990s, it is now increasing the pace of developments in broadband access."

Last month BT scrapped its broadband pre-registration scheme in a move designed to make DSL broadband available to 99.6 per cent of UK homes and businesses by summer 2005, bringing the UK "significantly closer to universal availability". ®

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