Of these, according to the OECD, just under half are dedicated mobile data subscriptions, around eight million and vastly in excess of the number of fixed broadband connections, 5.5 million. So either a lot of people are opting for wireless-only broadband connections, or several occupants of fixed broadband-connected households have their own dedicated wireless broadband services.
Conroy can hardly be expected to make a big deal of this because it will undermine arguments for the need for an NBN. As for Fletcher, Conroy's contradictory previous pronouncements on the OECD's six monthly broadband reports gave him plenty of scope for attack.
Conroy seized on Australia's ranking of fixed broadband penetration, 21st out of 34 nations as measured by the OECD at 31 December 2011, to proclaim that it "reinforces the need for the NBN." He said: "The OECD's figures continue to demonstrate the importance of rolling out the NBN to all Australians."
He did not explain how he reached that conclusion. So far as I know there has never been any expectation that the NBN will drive broadband penetration significantly: the number of those in rural areas to whom it will bring broadband for the first time are not sufficiently numerous to make a significant shift to the per capita penetration statistics.
"Conroy has completely reversed his position on what Australia's broadband ranking shows," Fletcher said. "His press release of 18 July 2012 is headed 'Latest OECD broadband rankings reinforce the need for the NBN'. His press release of 7 December 2010 had a near identical title: 'Latest OECD Statistics Reinforce the Need for the NBN'. That was after Australia dropped to 18th out of 31 countries."
There was worse: "In 2005, Conroy claimed that Australia's ranking of 21st was an 'appalling result' which showed we were a broadband backwater," Fletcher said. "Conroy continued to run the same argument in the following years despite Australia moving up in the rankings from 21st in 2004 to 14th in 2007."
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