Broadband Growth and Policies in OECD Countries

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27 June 2008
9789264046764 (PDF) ;9789264046689(print)

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Broadband connects consumers, businesses and governments and are now therefore a vital instrument in ensuring the competitiveness of OECD countries. This report examines broadband developments and policies, and highlights challenges such as connecting users to fibre-based networks or coverage of rural areas. It also outlines emerging issues that may need policy attention as we move to next-generation networks. The findings are also relevant to emerging and developing economies designing broadband strategies.
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  • Main Findings and Policy Suggestions
    Broadband not only plays a critical role in the workings of the economy, it connects consumers, businesses, governments and facilitates social interaction. The Recommendation of the OECD Council on Broadband Development recognises this growing importance of broadband and its principles have been instrumental in fostering broadband development.
  • Broadband infrastructure
    The growing economic and social importance of broadband has resulted in most member countries, as well as the OECD, monitoring markets on a regular basis. In particular, regulators have monitored broadband subscriber data in order to assess market penetration rates. The OECD has collected comparative data on broadband penetration on a quarterly basis since 2001. Broadband penetration is a significant indicator that allows countries to gauge their relative performance.
  • Broadband diffusion and usage
    The value of broadband lies in the services it provides the applications it facilitates, and the content that can be accessed. What is also important is how users embrace this technology, and the impacts of expanded supply and use. Clearly, the relationship between the development of broadband infrastructure and the rollout of new broadband content and services (e.g. online government services) is a dynamic and interactive one.
  • The framework environment for broadband
    There have been a number of security developments emerging in OECD markets over the last three years. First, spam has evolved from a simple nuisance to a vehicle for fraud. It is has become the primary vector for introducing "malware" – malicious software into computers. Second, once a computer is infected with malware it can be remotely controlled to launch cyber attacks on defined targets – unbeknownst to the user. Clusters of these infected computers are called "botnets" and can be controlled simultaneously to launch attacks which overwhelm targeted Internet servers until they cease to function.
  • Broadband policy assessment and evaluation
    Evaluating procedures in formulating ICT policy goals and instruments is increasingly important in OECD countries; and evaluation has become a more common policy tool. Over the previous three years, some OECD countries have set up annual reviews or study groups to periodically reassess regulations and market developments. OECD countries are convening expert groups to review the market and make policy suggestions. For example, in the UK the government set up its Broadband Study Group (BSG) as an independent advisory body on the development and implementation of a suitable broadband strategy.
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