Summary:

The U.S. has the most broadband subscribers in OECD countries, but that’s because we’re the biggest. The OECD’s new broadband penetration stats showcase how far we need to come in future-proof broadband tehcnology.

Fiber optic cable
photo: Jamani Caillet / EPFL

Those broadband policy wonks who love to explain how good U.S. broadband is will certainly enjoy the latest batch of broadband data from the OECD. The data, which was released today, is based on information from June 2013. And you know what? The U.S. is number one when it comes to the number of broadband subscribers: we have 93 million — by far and away the most of OECD countries (which does not include India and China).

Of course, with the largest population of any of the OECD countries, this metric is unsurprising — and somewhat useless. Of the data released today the most interesting are probably the charts showing wireless penetration (the U.S. is No. 2 after Japan) and the growth of fiber. It’s also worth noting that most of the OECD broadband subscriptions are still DSL-based (click to expand).

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But fiber subscriptions are growing, albeit fairly slowly. The U.S is in the lower part of the pack and below the OECD average when it comes to growth in fiber subscriptions year over year with a 11.8 percent growth rate (but we’re not negative!). We also rank 14th in the percentage of fiber connections overall at 7.72 percent, so it’s not like our growth is slowing because we’ve already connected so many neighborhoods with fiber to the premise. But that is changing with new installations by Google, AT&T, CenturyLink and others (click to expand).

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So, when it comes to the next generation broadband technology that will help secure our place at the top of the OECD charts in more meaningful broadband stats, the U.S. should probably get a move on with fiber to the home installs. The OECD only counts fiber to the apartment or fiber to the home as a fiber connection.

As for other forms of technology, we’re faring well on wireless broadband penetration with almost everyone having a phone (we’re No. 2 to Japan’s No. 1 there) and most of us have data integrated into our phone plans and devices as opposed to relying on separate dongles. Later releases of data will show usage rates, costs and other interesting tidbits. For now, we’re the biggest, but we’re not the best when it comes to the next-generation technology.

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