Australia stays at 21st on OECD broadband stats

Australia has remained in 21st place in the latest broadband-penetration stats from the OECD, which the government says is why we need the NBN.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Australia has remained in 21st place in broadband subscriptions in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for the last six months of 2011.

The OECD placed Australia 21st of the 34 nations in the latest stats of broadband subscriptions per 100 people in data released yesterday.

According to the statistics, Australia has 24.6 per cent broadband penetration, with the vast majority of those subscriptions coming from DSL connections. Switzerland topped the list, with 39.9 per cent penetration, followed closely by the Netherlands, at 39.1 per cent. Turkey placed last, at a 10.1 per cent broadband-penetration rate.

Despite increasing broadband penetration by 0.6 per cent from June 2011 to December 2011, Australia was at 21st place for 2011, after sliding to that position from 18th in June last year.

While Australia remains low in fixed broadband penetration, the nation is performing much better in the rankings for wireless penetration, coming in at 8th place, with 74.4 wireless subscriptions per 100 people as of December 2011. This accounts for 16.6 million subscriptions, and is a massive increase from the 64.8 per cent penetration rate in June 2011. Korea tops this list, with 100.8 wireless subscriptions per 100 people.

Just 0.42 per cent of Australians are currently accessing the internet via a fibre connection, according to the data.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that the figures "reinforce the need for the National Broadband Network" (NBN).

"The OECD's figures continue to demonstrate the importance of rolling out the NBN to all Australians," Conroy said in a statement.

"The NBN's fast, affordable and reliable broadband will help Australia rise up the OECD broadband rankings, even as other OECD countries develop their own super-fast broadband capabilities."

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull was contacted for comment, but had not responded at the time of writing.

Liberal MP Paul Fletcher said Conroy should take the blame for Australia's ranking.

"Stephen Conroy’s broadband policy has had nearly five years to work. Yet on the very benchmark he consistently highlighted when in opposition, Australia’s broadband performance has got worse not better," Fletcher said.

"Conroy is like a medieval doctor applying leeches to a patient, and claiming that if he just keeps doing more of it the patient will get better."

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