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DSL still experiencing rapid rates of decline in OECD countries

By Mitchell Hageman
Fri 11 Feb 2022

High-speed fibre internet continues to be the most significant player in OECD countries, with growth rates still powering ahead of DSL.

Fibre subscriptions grew by 15% across OECD countries from June 2020 to June 2021, likely caused by demands faced when living and working under Covid-19 restrictions that require high-quality internet connections with rapid upload and download speeds.

These figures and numerous others were revealed in the OECD's broadband portal, which tracks uptake rates across the regions.

Fibre was found to now make up 32% of fixed broadband subscriptions across the OECD's 38 member countries, up from 12% a decade ago. This makes it the fastest-growing broadband technology, outpacing a 4.5% rise in overall fixed broadband subscriptions.

With this rapid rise, 23 OECD countries now have a higher share of fibre than copper-wire DSL in their total fixed broadband connections, a figure up from 20 countries a year ago. 

DSL connections saw sharp declines of over 30% in Chile (-37%), New Zealand (-32%), Norway (-40%), Spain (-32%), and Sweden (-31%). Countries like France, Japan, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Spain are starting the process of shutting down copper connections altogether.

Cable was revealed to still have slight growth momentum with a 4% increase during the year to June 2021, but it is now declining in 15 countries. It still, however, remains the primary fixed broadband technology for nine OECD countries.

Looking at a broader scale, fixed broadband subscriptions in OECD countries totalled 462.5 million as of June 2021, up from 443 million a year earlier. This was an average of 33.8 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. Mobile broadband subscriptions totalled 1.67 billion as of June 2021, up from 1.57 billion a year earlier, and averaged 122 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.

M2M SIM cards are also a growing market, with an uptake increase of 16%. Sweden, Austria, Iceland and the Netherlands dominated the rankings in this field, having 175.6, 82.5, 82.3 and 50.3 M2M cards respectively per 100 inhabitants.

Data-only subscriptions declined in 17 out of 38 countries, and this may have been due to greater use of fixed networks at home during Covid-19, which generally offer better connection quality for work and learn from home situations.

The OECD is a global policy forum that works with over 100 countries to promote and improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. They actively work with policies and conduct studies to help further utilise valuable data.

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