25 May 2008

OECD - The broadband myth

(Economist)
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) regularly releases a ranking of broadband penetration, speeds and prices across its 30 countries. More recently, it has begun to look at coverage and competition too. The OECD released its latest report. The number of broadband subscribers in the world's 30 biggest countries grew by 18% to reach 235m, or one-fifth of those countries' total population. Between 2005 and 2006, prices fell by an average of 19% for DSL connections and 16% for cable lines. At the end of 2004 the average speed was 2 megabits(MB) per second; in 2007 it increased to almost 9MB. But the excellent report, written by Taylor Reynolds and Sacha Wunsch-Vincent, goes beyond the numbers and examines why broadband is actually useful. And here the authors face a problem: there simply is not good data to show that broadband matters. there is little evidence to support the notion that faster is inherently better. The rankings miss something crucial about how broadband is used, regardless of where a country stands.