OECD: Broadband Competition Urged

OECD urges governments to increase competition to drive broadband growth

May 25, 2004

2 Min Read

PARIS -- Governments should promote competition instead of subsidies to boost the growth of high-speed Internet access or broadband in rural and remote areas, according to a new OECD report.

Obliging national operators to make broadband available to rural and remote areas would reduce competition and innovation. It could also mean users end up paying more for a worse service, according to “The Development of Broadband Access in Rural and Remote Areas”. To discuss this report and the challenges and opportunities of developing broadband in rural and remote areas, the OECD is holding an international workshop, hosted by the Portuguese Government, in Porto, Portugal on 25-26 October 2004.

Policy makers, industry players, regulators and government representatives will explore technology trends and developments in this area, discuss the role of governments and the private sector and compare current policy initiatives. This workshop will be open to the press.

Falling equipment costs are helping many new Wireless Internet Service Providers to enter the market and deliver broadband to remote areas previously considered too expensive to reach via digital subscriber line (DSL) or cable modems. The arrival of these start-up companies and the low prices they charge are in turn causing established telecoms operators to speed up their scheduled broadband roll-out and introduce wireless technology themselves so as not to lose potential customers.

The number of broadband subscribers in OECD countries is expected to reach 100 million by mid-2004, up from 82 million subscribers at the end of 2003 and 56 million at end 2002. Access to high-speed Internet is now available to 75% of households in OECD countries, with one in four already signed up. The report forecasts, however, that over the next few years DSL availability among member countries will continue to vary widely:

  • The possibility of connecting to broadband services is already available to over 90% of households in Belgium, Denmark, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Other countries expected to join this group by the end of 2004 include Finland, France and Germany.

  • Countries with larger geographical areas such as Australia, Canada, and the United States are likely to have DSL coverage of between 80% and 90% over the next few years. In Canada and the US, broadband via cable modem already reaches 85% and 80% of households respectively.

  • A number of countries– such as the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, and Ireland - have only recently launched broadband services.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

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