Broadband: We’re Number 12! We’re Number 12.

We’re number 12 and it’s maybe not something to cheer about.

MuniWireless reports on recent OECD (Office for Economic Co-operation and Development) data that shows the US 12th in number of broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants. We stand at 16.8 (per 100 inhabitants). Iceland leads at 26.7; Korea has 25.4. Canada is eighth. See the chart here:

In ‘household penetration,’ the US ranks 16th (sorry no time to back up that number this morning) but I still can’t quite grok how that number is determined. I like this ‘per 100’ figure much more. It’s easy to understand and allows for comparisons across nations.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin would like us to believe that low population density in the US accounts for the lag but Leila Abboud, in a Wall Street Journal article (behind the paywall) notes that Iceland, Norway, and Sweden all have lower densities and more per captita subscribers. (Read the Muni post for more on the WSJ article.)

One reason for the increase in broadband subscribers in countries like Iceland is “governments forcing incumbents to open up their networks to other service providers.” This is an important issue in Minneapolis and one that is under discussion as we struggle with preparing a Community Benefits Agreement that will be part of our municipal wireless contract.


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