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OECD broadband stats - how NZ compares

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 24 July 2018, 9:10 am

The annual publication of OECD broadband statistics is maybe the best measurement for New Zealand's progress in terms of connectivity and broadband uptake. The stats, which include the year to December 2017, are gathered from government agencies in 37 countries and this year's results are, as usual, a mixed bag.

New Zealand is highlighted in the OCED's release as being notable for its 129% increase in fixed wireless subscriptions, ahead of Australia (95%) and Iceland (63%). According to the release: "Fixed wireless is an affordable way to connect to the Internet in rural or remote areas, and much of this rise was from people taking out their first broadband connection or shifting from DSL (copper) to fixed wireless, particularly where fibre connections were not available in areas of lower population density."

In New Zealand, fixed wireless has also been a marketing focus for the major telcos, especially Spark, as the Commerce Commission noted in the scoping paper for its mobile market study earlier this year. In the same paper the ComCom highlighted the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), the majority of which are connections to electricity meters, and are served by conventional mobile networks. It's unsurprising therefore that the OECD calls out New Zealand out for being a leader, behind Sweden, in machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

While New Zealand's adoption of fixed wireless and M2M was highlighted by the OECD, it wasn't the only area of note. New Zealand was the sixth highest in terms of growth in fibre subscriptions with a 54% increase, but well behind the leaders Ireland, where fibre subscriptions grew by 419.6%, and Columbia (168.2%). In the entire OECD, fibre subscriptions account for 23.3% of total fixed broadband subscriptions, while in New Zealand they account for 31.3%.

Although we might be pleased that fibre broadband is increasingly available, the number of broadband subscriptions in New Zealand that enable connections speeds in excess of 100Mbps is only 8%, well below the top performer Korea, which boasts 76% of all subscriptions enabling speeds in excess of 100Mbps.

New Zealand continues to be in the middle of the pack for fixed broadband penetration, which is measured as subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. At 33.67 out of 100, this country ranks 17th - just behind the U.S. (33.72) and ahead of Australia (31.80). This used to be THE measure for success when it came to broadband, with TUANZ (Telecommunications Users Association of NZ) adopting as its mission statement for many years "targeting the top ten in the OECD".

Meanwhile, mobile broadband continues to surge, with mobile broadband penetration over 102% in the entire OECD. New Zealand was ranked 12th for mobile data and voice subscriptions per 100 inhabitants with 91.8 for both data and voice and 6.9 for data only. The OECD statistics also compare price bundles, and a new measure this year was a comparison of Mobile Termination Rates (the fee a mobile network owner (MNO) charges another MNO when a call is terminated on their network). New Zealand comes in as the third highest at 2.555 USD cents per minute, behind Japan (2.73) and Switzerland (3.366).


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