High-speed fibre subscriptions grew by 15% across OECD countries from June 2020 to June 2021, as living and working under Covid-19 restrictions continued to drive demand for high-quality internet connections with the rapid upload and download speeds that fibre offers.
The latest update to the OECD broadband portal
shows fibre now makes up 32% of fixed broadband subscriptions across the OECD’s 38 member countries, up from 12% a decade ago, and is by far the fastest-growing broadband technology, outpacing a 4.5% rise in overall fixed broadband subscriptions. While countries use different technology mixes, 23 OECD countries have now a higher share of fibre than copper-wire DSL in their total fixed broadband connections, up from 20 countries a year ago.
Cable showed more modest growth of 4% in the year to June 2021, and is now declining in 15 countries, yet it remains the main fixed broadband technology for nine OECD countries. DSL subscriptions declined by 6% over the same period, with several OECD countries showing sharp declines.
Latin American OECD countries saw significant increases in fibre with growth rates of 74% for Costa Rica, 71% for Chile, 43% for Colombia and 26% for Mexico. Other countries with impressive growth in fibre connections include Israel with 76%, Ireland with 54% and Italy with 53%. Seven countries now have a fibre share of above 70% of their fixed broadband subscriptions: Korea with 86%, Japan with 83%, Lithuania with 77%, Spain with 76%, Sweden with 76%, Iceland with 72% and Latvia with 71%.
Cable remains dominant in North and South America, accounting for 64% of subscriptions in the United States, 62% in Costa Rica, 61% in Colombia, 50% in Canada, 42% in Mexico and 41.4% in Chile, where fibre has overtaken it. In Europe cable is the dominant technology in Belgium (53%), Hungary (46.4%), and The Netherlands (46%).
DSL connections, meanwhile, saw sharp declines of over 30% in Chile (-37%), New Zealand (-32%), Norway (-40%), Spain (-32%), and Sweden (-31%). Some operators in OECD countries are in the process of shutting down copper connections altogether, for instance in France, Japan, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Spain.
Mobile broadband continued its inexorable growth with a 5.6% increase in subscriptions in the year to June 2021. However, with the growth of the previous period (3.6% in June 2019-June 2020), it represents the lowest growth in 10 years, whose average annual growth rate was 11.8%. The number of data-only subscriptions declined in 18 out of 38 countries and this category experienced a 0.44% drop in subscriptions. This could be due to greater use of fixed networks at home during Covid-19, which tend to offer a better connection quality for work, education, and leisure.
M2M SIM cards have grown by an impressive 16%, with Sweden, Austria, Iceland and the Netherlands dominating the ranking, having 175.6, 82.5, 82.3 and 50.3 M2M cards respectively per 100 inhabitants.
Overall, fixed broadband subscriptions in OECD countries totalled 462.5 million as of June 2021, up from 443 million a year earlier, to average 33.8 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. Mobile broadband subscriptions totalled 1.66 billion as of June 2021, up from 1.57 billion a year earlier, and averaged 121.4 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.