Australia is still lagging well behind most OECD countries in broadband Internet penetration, according to the latest figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Australia once again ranked 16th out of 20 nations on the list published at the weekend, the same placing we held in 2008.
Still, that’s a couple of places better than a separate survey by Harvard University showed in October, when we were ranked 18th.
The new OECD rankings show Australia had 24.9 subscribers per 100 inhabitants at June 2009. That put us well behind leaders Netherlands (38.1), Denmark (37) and Norway (34.5).
We finished one place behind the USA (26.7 subscribers per 100), one ahead of Japan (24.2) and two ahead of New Zealand (22.8).
The OECD said there were a total of 271 million broadband subscribers in OECD nations at 30 June, an increase of 10 per cent from June 2008. Half of OECD countries have reached 25 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants or better.
The statistics also show that future growth in super-fast broadband is likely to come from fibre-optic networks, like Australia’s NBN, rather than DSL or cable. Nearly one in 10 OECD subscribers already accesses the Internet over fibre. In Japan and Korea, most do. And fibre is growing fast in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the United States.
This upgrade shows high-speed broadband networks are increasingly seen as a fundamental infrastructure for the economy, like roads, water and electricity.
The economic crisis has threatened to halt some fibre upgrades just as consumers and businesses use more bandwidth. Governments have stepped in to fill the gap using stimulus funds to pay for new broadband networks. But there is still debate whether these investments make economic sense, particularly as governments are wading into the private sector area.