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Iceland: We're No. 1 In Broadband!

A broadband survey assessing where the top concentrations of broadband users are has some surprise results.

W. David Gardner

April 12, 2006

2 Min Read

Broadband usage in the United States is mired in the 12th position internationally as Iceland and South Korea battle for the top concentration of broadband users, according to a broadband survey released Wednesday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Iceland supplanted South Korea in the latest survey, recording 26.7 broadband users per 100 to South Korea's 25.4 users. However, the OECD suggested that South Korea's setback may be temporary while the country switches to the next generation of fiber optical broadband.

"Korea's broadband market is advancing to the next stage of development where existing subscribers switch platforms for increased bandwidth," the OECD report stated. "In Korea, fiber-based broadband connections grew 52.4 percent during 2005."

The report noted that among all the countries surveyed, there was a net loss of 3.3 percent and 1.7 percent of DSL and cable broadband, respectively.

Iceland, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, and Australia each added more than 6 broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants in 2005 to pace the standings.

Although the U.S. recorded the largest total number of broadband subscribers with 49 million, its 12th place finish has to be a disappointment for the Bush Administration, which has made broadband rollout a cornerstone of its technology and innovation campaigns.

U.S. government officials have noted that the low population density of the U.S. makes it difficult to deploy broadband over large areas of the country, but the advance of other low population density countries like Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden seems to indicate that broadband can be deployed in rural and remote areas if there is a will.

In the 30 OECD countries surveyed, DSL was the leading installed broadband technology in 28 countries – the U.S. and Canada – and represent a 62 percent installation figure of total users. Cable broadband accounted for 31 percent while "other technologies" including satellite and fixed wireless represented 7 percent.

Japan led OECD countries in fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) with 4.6 million subscribers. The OECD report did not include 3G users, some of which are beginning to use their cell phones for broadband. The OECD noted there is a "continuing debate in international circles" as to whether 3G broadband users should be included in surveys of broadband users.

In order, the top 12 countries in broadband use are: Iceland, Korea, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Canada, Sweden, Belgium, Japan, United States.

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