Friday, 19 June 2009 10:53

Australia ranks 11th in the world in broadband use

A new report puts Australia well ahead of the US and several European nations in terms of broadband access. Far from painting a picture of Australia being a broadband challenged nation, the report puts Australia's broadband penetration ahead of the UK, Sweden, Germany and France, among other affluent nations.

According to Strategy Analytics, the (non-business) broadband market should be examined in terms of households connected, not the number of users.

Principal analyst David Mercer explains "That's not to say that the number of users is not important in other respects, and we track that as well. But the way the broadband business is currently set up (and it doesn't seem likely to change any time soon) the household is the more important measure."

Ben Piper, director of the Strategy Analytics Multiplay Market Dynamics service, underscored Mercer's point. "In far too many cases, people are looking at the wrong things," he said.

"Residential broadband is overwhelmingly consumed on a household basis — not individually. Reporting broadband penetration on a per-capita basis misses the mark, and can provide grossly misleading results."

Apart from anything else, it is possible to obtain hard data about the number of households served by any particular carrier, whereas the number of users can only be estimated from demographic data or extrapolated from sample surveys.

Strategy Analytics rankings for 2008 show Asian nations at the top of the list, with 95 percent of South Korean households taking broadband, 88 percent in Singapore, and 81 percent in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

But Asia doesn't take all the top spots, and Asian countries can also be found at the bottom of the list - see page 2.

The Netherlands and Denmark have moved up, with 85 and 82 percent respectively.

For countries with relatively small populations spread over a large land mass, Canada and Australia are travelling well at 76 and 72 percent, putting them in ninth and 11th place.

The US comes in at number 20 on 60 percent, behind the United Arab Emirates, Estonia and Belgium.

Yet several other western European countries appear below the US on Strategy Analytics list, including Germany (58 percent), Ireland (58 percent), Spain (57 percent), Italy (51 percent, despite being presented in some reports as a poster child for IPTV), and Portugal (40 percent).

The last three countries in the ranking are Egypt (3 percent), India (2 percent) and Indonesia (1 percent).

"China, for all the talk of its emerging leadership in all things tech, ranks at number 43 with 21% household penetration," observed Mercer.

"The rural population in China is clearly still way behind leading economies in adoption of PCs and internet access."

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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