WASHINGTON, DC: The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis (OSP) and the International Bureau (IB) has released a joint staff report reviewing the broadband policy experiences of selected OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries like South Korea, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, and the UK.
The report is entitled 'Broadband Internet Access in OECD Countries: A Comparative Analysis.'
The OECD consists of 30 of world's industrialised countries, including the US.
Some of the conclusions made by the staff report are:
* In OECD countries, cable companies, rather than incumbent telecommunications carriers, have been the leaders in introducing broadband access services. This is especially true in countries like Korea, Canada, Belgium, Sweden, and Japan.
* While telecommunications carriers in these countries did not lead the way to offering broadband access, they have often proven to be formidable competitors once they begin to offer digital subscriber lines (DSL) services.
In 1999, 84 per cent of OECD broadband subscribers used cable modem services and 16 per cent used DSL. In 2000, the share held by cable modem users had slipped to 55 per cent with DSL users at 45 per cent. In 2002, DSL took the lead with 54 per cent, cable modems were at 41 per cent, and other platforms at 3 per cent. Across the OECD, DSL subscribers grew twice as fast as cable modem subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2002.
This suggests that DSL providers, particularly incumbents, are not innovators but have the ability to compete vigorously and gain significant market share once they decide to enter a market.
* Sweden is the only country with a significant number of broadband users with access to a third platform other than cable modem services and DSL. Almost as many subscribers use Ethernet Lans (fiber networks within apartment buildings) as cable modems.
* In Japan and Denmark, new entrants took advantage of unbundling and line sharing rules to use the incumbent Telco's lines to provide broadband.
New entrants had a 44 per cent market share in Denmark in 2001 (which since declined to 21 per cent in 2002) and 60 per cent market share in Japan. In both countries, competition from cable is weak and unbundling requirements may play an important role in promoting broadband access.