1. Connectivity

Mobile broadband penetration, by technology December 2016
Per 100 inhabitants

Source: OECD, Broadband Portal, www.oecd.org/sti/broadband/oecdbroadbandportal.htm, July 2017. StatLink contains more data. See chapter notes.


Did you know?

The number of mobile broadband subscriptions in the OECD area more than doubled between 2010 and 2016, reaching about 1.3 billion – almost one subscription per inhabitant.

Broadband communication networks and the services provided over them support existing economic and social activities and hold potential for tremendous innovation. Broadband diffusion remains uneven across OECD economies but continues to increase everywhere. Fixed broadband subscriptions in the OECD area reached 387 million as of December 2016, with an average penetration rate of 30%, up from 25% at the end of 2010. Switzerland had the highest penetration rate (50%) followed by Denmark, the Netherlands and France (all above 40%).

Progress has been particularly swift in mobile broadband. Mobile broadband penetration for the OECD area reached 99% in December 2016, up from 44% in 2010 – almost one subscription per inhabitant. Over the same period, total mobile broadband subscriptions increased from 544 million to 1.275 billion and represent 77% of all broadband access paths in the OECD area. Penetration rates in OECD countries increased spectacularly between 2010 and 2016, particularly in the Czech Republic (by 16 times) and Mexico (14 times).

Broadband connections in households are an indicator of people’s access to information and services. Disparities in broadband access are partly explained by urban-rural divides within countries. Gaps in broadband access are largest in Greece (21 percentage points), Chile (19) and Portugal (15).

Higher broadband penetration has narrowed the gap between medium and small firms. Nevertheless, the gap remains substantial in Mexico (17 percentage points), Greece (14), Poland (7) and the United Kingdom (6).


Broadband penetration is defined as the number of subscriptions to fixed and mobile broadband services, i.e. with advertised data speeds of 256 kbps or more, divided by the number of residents in each country. Fixed broadband comprises DSL, cable, fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fibre-to-the-building (FTTB), satellite, terrestrial fixed wireless and other fixed-wired technologies. Mobile broadband comprises data and voice and data only subscriptions.

According to the OECD Regional Typology, a region is classified as rural (urban) if the share of the population living in local units with a population density below 150 inhabitants per square kilometre is above 50% (below 15%). In Japan and Korea, the threshold is 500 inhabitants, as national population density exceeds 300 inhabitants per square kilometre.

Firms’ size classes are defined as small (10 to 49 persons employed), medium (50 to 249) and large (above 250).

Households with broadband connections, urban and rural, 2010 and 2016
As a percentage of households in each category

Source: OECD, ICT Access and Usage by Households and Individuals Database, http://oe.cd/hhind, June 2017. StatLink contains more data. See chapter notes.


Small and medium enterprises with broadband access, fixed or mobile, 2016
As a percentage of enterprises in each employment size class

Source: OECD, ICT Access and Usage by Businesses Database, http://oe.cd/bus, July 2017. StatLink contains more data. See chapter notes.



Fixed (wired) and mobile wireless broadband subscriptions for OECD countries are collected according to common definitions and are highly comparable (OECD, 2015a). Data for wireless broadband subscriptions have improved greatly in recent years, especially with regard to measurement of Data and voice mobile and Data only mobile data subscriptions. In the case of Data and voice mobile subscriptions, these need to be active during the last three months before the date of measurement, which can pose difficulties. Data respecting these standards are now available for most OECD countries.

The OECD Regional Typology can help explain regional differences in economic and labour market performance. However, as it is based on population density, it cannot discriminate between regions close to a large populated centre and remote regions. In order to account for these differences, the OECD Regional Typology has been extended to include an additional criterion based on the driving time needed for 50% of the population of a region to reach a populated centre (Brezzi et al., 2011). For the time being, the extended typology has only been computed for regions in North America (Canada, Mexico and the United States) and Europe.