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Wired broadband adoption dips as wireless flies

OECD data offers grim view of broadband's GDP-boosting prowess

Broadband Genie

The developed world has lost its appetite for terrestrial internet connections, but is hungry for vast increases in wireless connectivity, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD's) latest data on broadband adoption among its 34 members.

The new data asserts that residents of OECD members collectively use 314,857,679 wired broadband connections and 667,400,934 wireless services, as of December 2011. But growth in wired connections has slowed to just 1.8% across the OECD bloc, for the six months to December 2011 measured in this study. Wireless connections, by contrast, leapt by 13%.

Wired connection penetration into business and homes has also flatlined across the OECD. The table below showing the The Reg's top three four reader-infested nations is repeated throughout the bloc (.XLS here if you want to wade through all the data).

2007-Q4 2008-Q2 2008-Q4 2009-Q2 2009-04 2010-Q2 2010-Q4 2011-Q2 2011-Q4
United Kingdom 25.78 27.24 28.16 28.73 30.31 30.47 31.94 33.05 33.28
Canada 27.20 27.04 28.19 29.43 29.59 30.07 30.70 31.22 32.03
United States 23.37 23.89 25.48 26.47 25.49 26.05 26.78 27.41 27.71
Australia 22.83 23.16 24.80 24.29 23.10 23.26 24.10 24.19 24.57

The OECD is frustratingly vague about just what constitutes a wireless service: its FAQ asking "€œWhy is mobile broadband not included in the OECD subscriber statistics?"€ has no answer. But a little time poring through the data reveals that the organisation counts “standard mobile” services, which we are pretty sure means “smartphones and devices of that ilk”. The data also mentions “dedicated data” services, which other documents hint at equating to mobile broadband services in at least some member nations. Such connections represent 38.6% of all wireless broadband connections, while “standard mobile” connections sweep up 60.5% of services.

The report also includes the graph below (click here to see at readable size) which offers an analysis of broadband penetration compared to gross domestic product (GDP). The analysis shows that lots of broadband users does not necessarily translate into colossal GDP. Of course the graph does not take into account all sorts of other factors that contribute to GDP, so don't go turning this into dinner party data please.

OECD data on ratios of broadband adoption to GDP

GDP and broadband adoption rates, as measured by the OECD

GDP and broadband adoption rates, as measured by the OECD

The data also reveals, among numerous spreadsheets, the existence of an Hungarian ISP UPC which offers a broadband product which, thanks to a five-terabyte download allowance at a speed of just ten megabits per second, cannot ever reach the download quota. ®

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