NZ falls behind in broadband race

OECD figures show New Zealand is still 22nd out of 30 countries.

Despite increasing our broadband uptake by three connections per 100 inhabitants, New Zealand still languishes in 22nd place in the latest OECD broadband survey.

The figures, released last week, paint a grim picture of our broadband uptake.

As of December, New Zealand has 8.1 broadband connections per 100 inhabitants. The OECD average, however, has climbed to 13.6 per 100.

Australia, previously only one place ahead of New Zealand, has leapt up through the ranks and now stands in 17th place, having overtaken Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Australia’s growth rate is more than double that of New Zealand. More alarmingly, New Zealand is in danger of being overtaken by the Czech Republic, which has tripled its broadband uptake in the past year. At current rates of growth, New Zealand will slip back one space in the next year or so.

While the argument has been made that New Zealand’s ranking is on a par with its GDP (gross domestic product), the OECD figures show New Zealand is lagging behind even by this measure.

Those countries that have the greatest broadband penetration aren’t necessarily those with the highest GDP per capita. Luxembourg has the highest GDP per capita, at US$57,500, yet its broadband penetration rate is “only” 15%. In contrast, one of the poorer countries, South Korea, has one of the highest levels of broadband uptake.

New Zealand’s broadband uptake lags behind its GDP per capita income, placing us 22nd out of 30 countries.

Even when looking at the figures by population density, New Zealand fairs poorly. With 15 inhabitants per 100 km squared, New Zealand is on par with Finland and Norway, both of which have far greater levels of broadband uptake (around 22% each) compared with 8.1% for New Zealand.

The technology of choice for broadband internationally is far and away DSL with 62% share of the market, however mature countries are moving on to the next generation of technologies.

In Korea, DSL numbers slipped last year while fibre to the home grew dramatically — more than 50% year on year. Fibre offers significantly higher rates of speed than DSL, which runs over copper lines, can manage.

The government has said it wants New Zealand to be in the top half of the OECD by the end of next year, and the top quartile by 2010.

AT A GLANCE

New Zealand

2004: 22 out of 30

2005: 22 out of 30

Broadband penetration: 8.1 connections per 100 inhabitants

Net growth rate: 3.36 connections per 100 inhabitants

Australia

2004: 21 out of 30

2005: 17 out of 30

Broadband penetration: 13.8 per 100 inhabitants

Net growth rate: 6.40 connections per 100 inhabitants

OECD average

Broadband penetration: 13.6 per 100 inhabitants (in 2004 it was 10.2)

Net growth rate: 1.43 connections per 100 inhabitants

source: OECD

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