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

By GIXnews

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)

Rank Country DSL Cable Fibre/LAN Other Total Total subs
1 Switzerland 27.9 13.2 3.4 0.3 44.9 3 597 000
2 Netherlands 18.6 18.7 3.2 0.0 40.4 6 794 000
3 Denmark 20.7 11.5 7.8 0.0 40.0 2 245 593
4 France 34.2 2.6 0.8 0.0 37.6 24 751 000
5 Korea 3.7 9.6 24.2 0.0 37.5 18 737 125
6 Norway 15.7 11.6 9.7 0.0 37.0 1 881 610
7 Iceland 27.8 0.0 7.9 0.0 35.8 115 826
8 United Kingdom 24.7 6.9 3.7 0.0 35.2 22 559 353
9 Germany 28.2 6.2 0.3 0.1 34.8 28 603 463
10 Belgium 16.8 17.6 0.0 0.0 34.4 3 819 393
11 Canada 13.5 18.8 1.1 0.0 33.5 11 675 481
12 Luxembourg 26.8 3.4 2.2 0.1 32.5 177 300
13 Sweden 14.0 6.0 12.4 0.1 32.4 3 113 400
14 Finland 18.9 5.8 0.9 5.2 30.8 1 676 400
15 New Zealand 28.3 1.5 0.5 0.0 30.2 1 341 846
16 United States 9.8 17.3 2.4 0.2 29.8 93 618 000
17 Japan 3.7 4.8 19.6 0.0 28.1 35 785 203
18 Spain 20.3 4.6 1.4 0.0 26.3 12 080 540
19 Greece 26.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 26.2 2 910 074
20 Austria 17.6 8.2 0.3 0.0 26.1 2 214 428
21 Australia 21.2 4.1 0.7 0.0 26.0 6 009 000
22 Estonia 10.7 5.8 8.6 0.4 25.5 341 465
23 Israel 16.0 9.1 0.0 0.0 25.1 2 024 000
24 Slovenia 12.3 7.5 5.2 0.1 25.1 517 249
25 Ireland 16.9 7.4 0.1 0.0 24.4 1 121 551
26 Portugal 10.5 9.3 4.4 0.0 24.1 2 528 604
27 Hungary 8.0 11.6 3.5 0.0 23.1 2 282 133
28 Italy 21.7 0.0 0.5 0.1 22.3 13 597 570
29 Czech Republic 9.2 4.9 3.3 0.0 17.4 1 826 726
30 Poland 7.7 5.7 0.6 1.7 15.6 6 022 651
31 Slovak Republic 8.1 2.6 4.9 0.0 15.6 845 997
32 Chile 5.5 6.6 0.3 0.5 12.9 2 271 240
33 Mexico 8.2 2.4 0.7 0.1 11.4 13 533 448
34 Turkey 8.9 0.6 1.6 0.1 11.2 8 382 811

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)
http://www.oecd.org/sti/broadband/oecdbroadbandportal.htm