OECD Rank UK 8th for Fixed Broadband Penetration as Fibre Optic Grows

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By Mark Jackson, ISPreview UK | July 23rd, 2014

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which covers 34 countries that support democracy and a market economy, has reported that at the end of 2013 the United Kingdom ranked 8th for fixed line broadband penetration (i.e. 35.2 subscribers per 100 inhabitants). Fibre optic (FTTH/P/B) connections also continued to grow.

The fixed broadband penetration figure represents an annual growth of 3.1%, which is to be expected in a market where Internet connectivity has already reached maturity. By comparison Germany saw annual penetration rise by 2%, Italy 0.9%, France 4% and Spain 4.6%.

As usual the slower copper-based DSL (ADSL, SDSL etc.) broadband connections continue to dominate the market, although the UK’s DSL penetration figure of 24.7 per 100 inhabitants represents a reduction from 25.5 recorded six months earlier and most of that has gone to growth via Fibre/LAN services.

Fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants by technology (Dec 2013)

RankCountryDSLCableFibre/LAN Other TotalTotal subs
1Switzerland27.913.23.40.344.93 597 000
2Netherlands18.618. 794 000
3Denmark20.711. 245 593
4France34. 751 000
5Korea3.79.624.20.037.518 737 125
6Norway15.711. 881 610
7Iceland27. 826
8United Kingdom24. 559 353
9Germany28. 603 463
10Belgium16.817. 819 393
11Canada13.518. 675 481
12Luxembourg26. 300
13Sweden14. 113 400
14Finland18. 676 400
15New Zealand28. 341 846
16United States9.817. 618 000
17Japan3.74.819.60.028.135 785 203
18Spain20. 080 540
19Greece26. 910 074
20Austria17. 214 428
21Australia21. 009 000
22Estonia10. 465
23Israel16. 024 000
24Slovenia12. 249
25Ireland16. 121 551
26Portugal10. 528 604
27Hungary8. 282 133
28Italy21. 597 570
29Czech Republic9. 826 726
30Poland7. 022 651
31Slovak Republic8. 997
32Chile5. 271 240
33Mexico8. 533 448
34Turkey8. 382 811

Interestingly the report also claims that 10.39% of the United Kingdom’s total broadband connections are “fibre“. The OECD defines “fibre” as both all Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP/H) subscriptions at download speeds of greater than 256Kbps and all Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTP) lines (the latter counts only the number of actual subscriptions to the provider, not end users).

As a result of that definition it’s interesting to note that the United Kingdom has the 3rd highest level of fibre growth in the whole OECD, with the annual increase equating to 116.36%. In fairness that’s probably to be expected given the low starting point and doesn’t strictly translate into a lot of actual subscribers, although the 10.39% figure above suggests differently.

We know from practical reports produced by the FTTH Council and Point Topic that in 2013 there were still around 200,000 UK premises within reach of a true fibre optic (FTTP/H/B) connection and even if 100% of those were converted to subscribers it would still only equate to 0.88% of the 22,559,353 total for actual broadband subscriptions. As a result we suspect that the OECD have counted FTTC as pure fibre optic, perhaps due to a misinterpretation of Ofcom’s data, since 10.39% makes more sense when you include hybrid-fibre (FTTC) solutions.

OECD Broadband Stats (Dec 2013)