9 October 2003 - The OECD has released its policy response to the challenge of maximising the benefits of broadband Internet services for economic and social development.
The OECD Committee on Information, Computer and Communications Policy (ICCP) statement highlights the need for competition in communication markets and between rapidly evolving technologies, including DSL, cable, fixed wireless, and satellite. Government policy has to be pro-competitive, paying particular attention to neutrality among different technologies.
The private sector has a primary role in investing in broadband infrastructure, service provision, applications, and content creation. Government has a role as a model user, in aggregating demand, and where needed, in supporting services for under-served communities. Although broadband access is now available to three in four households across the OECD area and this level of access has been achieved relatively quickly, the policy statement aims to increase that reach and develop services still further.
Finally, building user trust in broadband and ensuring network and information security is important, particularly because a defining characteristic of broadband technology is that it is "always on".
Information and communication technology (ICT) is a proven contributor to economic growth derived from improved efficiency in business processes and increased access to markets, for example for small and medium-sized enterprises. With growth of 53% over the last year, translating into 75 million broadband subscribers in OECD countries by the end of September 2003 and an estimated annual USD 30 billion in access revenue, the significance of broadband as a key component of ICT-driven growth has been established. Together with increasing user interest and availability, the average OECD penetration rate of 6.6 subscribers per 100 inhabitants indicates major potential for future growth, with a number of the leading countries already well ahead of that rate.
“ICT is a key driver of economic growth, and broadband is probably the single most important, cross-cutting development in ICT at this time,” said Hugo Parr, Chairman of the OECD ICCP Committee and Director General, Ministry of Trade and Industry of Norway, adding that, “choosing the right policy responses can have an immense impact both for the public and the private sectors.”
The document Broadband Driving Growth: Policy Responses , and an addendum, Bibliography of Existing ICCP Work on Broadband Development , are now available.