broadband fibre

Fibre overtakes cable to become most common fixed broadband option

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High-speed fibre internet has overtaken cable to become the most common fixed broadband technology across the OECD’s 38 member countries, latest data shows.

The analysis found that 34.9 per cent of connections were fixed broadband subscriptions - an 18.6 per cent jump over the year to December 2021 - to move ahead of cable, now at 32.4 per cent of fixed broadband subscriptions, with DSL at 27 per cent and declining.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental organisation with 38 member countries including the UK, US, Japan, France, Germany and Canada.

“This is good news for the delivery of data-intense services and applications, given the symmetrical capacity that fibre offers,” the OECD said in a statement.

The biggest areas of growth were in Costa Rica, Israel, Greece and Belgium, which all increased fibre connections by more than 80 per cent in 2021. The share of fibre in total broadband is now at 50 per cent or above in 13 OECD countries, standing above 50 per cent in Chile, Finland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway and Portugal, and above 70 per cent in Iceland, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Spain and Sweden.

Soon after becoming UK Prime Minister in 2019, Boris Johnson promised to roll out full-fibre broadband across much of the UK by 2025. Many MPs said his claims were difficult to believe considering the UK’s existing digital divide.

Nevertheless, fixed broadband subscriptions continue to grow in almost all OECD countries, increasing by 3.9 per cent across the OECD area in 2021 to total 472 million, up from 454 million in December 2020, to average 34.4 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in the OECD.

Switzerland led the pack with a penetration rate of 48.4 subscriptions per 100 people, followed by France (46 per cent), Norway (45 per cent) and Denmark (45 per cent).

Mobile data usage per subscription rose by 15 per cent in 2021, less than in 2020 but still making a rise of 79 per cent over the three years to year-end 2021. The amount of data consumed averages 8.4Gb per OECD subscription per month, although actual figures vary greatly by country.

Finland leads the way with 36.7Gb per month per subscription, followed by Latvia (29.7Gb) and Austria (26.4Gb) while monthly averages in Mexico and the Slovak Republic are just below 4Gb.   

Researchers recently found that the infrastructure that provides internet to around a quarter of the world’s users is more vulnerable to attack than previously thought due to a paucity of providers for internet access.

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