OECD Digital Economy Papers

The OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) undertakes a wide range of activities to better understand how information and communication technologies (ICTs) contribute to sustainable economic growth and social well-being. The OECD Digital Economy Papers series covers a broad range of ICT-related issues and makes selected studies available to a wider readership. They include policy reports, which are officially declassified by an OECD Committee, and occasional working papers, which are meant to share early knowledge.

English, French

Indicators of Broadband Coverage

The aim of this report is to assist policy makers in providing an overview of how broadband physical coverage and availability can be measured. It first summarises what data are available from official and non-official sources. The approach taken by the report is to consider coverage and availability related to different types of technologies. These include Digital Subscriber Line (DSL or xDSL), cable networks (i.e. cable modem), Fibre to the Premises (i.e. FTTH/B for homes and businesses), 3G (including WCDMA and CDMA-2000), satellite and WiMAX technologies. This is because every technology capable of providing high speed Internet access involves specific issues when measuring coverage and availability. Accordingly, categorisation by technology is the most consistent way to approach this task. For every broadband technology, the available indicators will be presented, and this report discusses to what extent they are comparable. This report does not address metrics on the actual take-up of broadband services or penetration rates which are based on different measures and for which cross-country data are much more consistent. The report is aimed at providing information on the advantages and pitfalls of existing indicators used to measure broadband coverage. There is not necessarily a single indicator which should be used when assessing broadband coverage since this depends on what measures policy makers require: for example measuring the digital divide which may exist in a country, measuring the availability of broadband access for business, measuring broadband availability for residential customers, etc. There is no attempt in the paper to draw a conclusion as to the ideal indicator which should be used. However, it is important that OECD countries try to ensure a better consistency in the use of indicators to measure availability of broadband. The paper, in certain tables, lists all OECD countries even though they may be using different indicators to measure broadband coverage. The purpose in doing so is to show which indicators countries use and not to try and equate indicators that are by nature different.


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