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U.S. still a laggard on broadband adoption, despite sheer numbers

Tue, 04/24/2007 - 11:05am
Brian Santo

The U.S. leads the world by far when it comes to the total number of broadband subscribers (58.1 million), but continues to lag when it comes to broadband adoption rates. The U.S. ranks only 15th in terms of penetration, according to statistics compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The U.S. is failing to live up to its own goals for broader penetration, but that situation is shared by other countries that are similarly characterized by larger populations who also have an enthusiasm for broadband services. Also ranking low are the U.K., Japan and France, among the countries immediately ahead of the U.S. on the OECD per-capita adoption list.

Through 2006, the number of broadband subscribers in the OECD data increased 26 percent from 157 million in December 2005 to 197 million in December 2006. This growth increased broadband penetration rates in the OECD data from 13.5 in December 2005 to 16.9 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants one year later.

Other data points (all as of December) called out by the OECD include:

European countries continue to lead with high broadband penetration rates. Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Korea, Switzerland,  Finland, Norway and Sweden each had 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.

Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) subscriptions now comprise nearly 7 percent of all broadband connections in the OECD and the percentage is growing. Korea and Japan each have more than six fiber-based broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants. The total number of ADSL subscriptions continues to fall in Korea and Japan as more users upgrade to fiber-based connections. 

Broadband connections included in OECD data must have download speeds equal to or faster than 256 kbps. Although satellite-based broadband is included in the OECD’s calculations, 3G mobile technologies are not.

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