OECD jump not NBN-reliant: Fletcher

OECD jump not NBN-reliant: Fletcher

Summary: The National Digital Economy Strategy goal of moving Australia up the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) rankings for broadband penetration does not have to be met by the roll-out of the National Broadband Network (NBN), according to Liberal MP Paul Fletcher.

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The National Digital Economy Strategy goal of moving Australia up the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) rankings for broadband penetration does not have to be met by the roll-out of the National Broadband Network (NBN), according to Liberal MP Paul Fletcher.

In the June 2010 OECD statistics, released in December last year, Australia ranked 18th in the list of OECD countries for fixed-line broadband uptake. At the launch of the National Digital Economy Strategy in Sydney last month, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that raising Australia to within the top five of this ranking by 2020 was one of the main goals of the strategy.

However, Fletcher, a former executive with telco giant Optus, has pointed out that two of the countries — the Netherlands and Denmark — ranked in the top of the OECD list are not there because of a fibre-to-the-home service.

"Of the 37.8 services per 100 in the Netherlands, how many were fibre? Only 0.9! The majority (22 of the 37.8) were DSL, and the balance were cable," he said in an email yesterday. "Denmark ranks second on the OECD's penetration list. But again, a closer examination shows that only a small share of its services are fibre: 4.4 per 100, compared to 22.3 DSL and the balance cable."

While Fletcher also picked up on the fact that despite Japan's high fibre percentage (14.6 per cent), its OECD ranking was near Australia's at 16th, he failed to note that the fourth-ranked OECD country was Korea, with a penetration rate of 34.4 per cent, with 17 per cent being delivered via fibre.

Fletcher said the statistics showed that embarking on the $35.9 billion NBN project may not necessarily lead to high penetration of broadband services.

"If our policy objective is to have as many Australians as possible using broadband services, the data suggests that spending big on a national fibre network offers no certainty of meeting that objective," he said.

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Government AU

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Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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5 comments
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  • The Netherlands, Korea and Japan are geographically small in land mass compared to a large country like Australia. So nice try, Fletcher, but your comparisons to other countries isn't working. Australia is a unique country. I believe the NBN will work wonders for us and will give our OECD ranking a big boost!
    RL-079ec
  • Those comparisons are perfectly apt, he is just talking about fibre penetration per capita

    Unless you are saying that the fiber in netherlands happens to be "worse" because in its a country of smaller population density/size then in Japan

    Further countries like netherlands or denmark have similar population densities as Australia, the only difference being the size of the country. However, as our lovely Conroy pointed out, 96% of Australia only live in a few percent of our land mass (and thats where the fibre is being installed).

    So in fact there is little difference between Australia and those Scandinavian countries in terms of geography. What matters the most is population density and population distribution, and they are both very similar. Such Scandinavian countries are smaller, but their population is more or less evenly spread in that area, in Australia most of our population lives in small areas
    deteego
    • If you look at http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Chapter3002008 and then the populations and densities of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denmark , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netherlands and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia I think even you will see just how silly your post is Deteego
      Tinman_au
  • "Fletcher said the statistics showed that embarking on the $35.9 billion NBN project may not necessarily lead to high penetration of broadband services".

    Well at least Fletcher isn't as silly as his colleagues and didn't say "white elephant"...! He left himself a little credibility for when imo, the inevitable back-flip occurs, as they have already hinted at and been making excuses about...
    Rizz-cd230
  • Paul Fletcher may have been a good corporate droid in his previous real job, but it is hard to take seriously his current politically inspired comments about a broadband network for Australia.

    Looking at our future comms needs for fifty years or more ahead, it is clear that none of the touted alternatives to national fibre (copper, HFC or wireless) could be remotely capable of meeting our needs over that period.

    It seems that perhaps the best thing that could be said about Fletcher's contribution is that while he should know more about the comms industry than either Malcolm Turnbull or Tony Abbott, alas, that may be merely damning with faint praise.
    gnome-8be8a