Australia a wireless leader and wired laggard Featured

Australia has the second highest rate of broadband mobile in the world but ranks a lowly 21st place in fixed broadband. Australia has 114.4 wireless broadband subscriptions per 100 population but just 26.1 fixed connections per 100, according to the latest figures from the OECD.

That is second only to Finland (123.3). Denmark, Japan, Korea, Sweden and the US are the only other countries to exceed the 100% mark. Most of the Australian connections are mobile broadband (87.7), with the rest mostly dedicated mobile data subscriptions.

But Australia does not fare so well in comparisons of fixed line broadband. We are in 21st place with 26.1 connections per 100 people, less than the OECD average of 27.0%. Leaders are Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark with 44.9%, 40.4% and 40.0% respectively.

ADSL is still the prevalent technology, making up 51.5% of fixed broadband subscriptions, but it continues to be gradually replaced by fibre, now at 16.7% of subscriptions. Cable (31.2%) accounted for most of the remaining subscriptions.

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Data from the OECD broadband portal shows that wireless broadband penetration has grown to 72.4% in the OECD area, according to December 2013 data, meaning there are almost three wireless subscriptions for every four inhabitants. Wireless broadband subscriptions in the 34-country group were up 14.6% from a year earlier to a total of 910 million, driven by continuing strong demand for smartphones and tablets.

Two-digit annual growth in fibre ratio in total fixed broadband was sustained thanks to increases in large OECD economies with low penetration levels such as France (66%), Spain (74%), Turkey (73%) and the UK (108%). Japan and Korea remain the OECD leaders, with fibre making up 69.9% and 64.6% of fixed broadband connections.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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