Wireless continues to entice network operators and their customers, but regulatory intervention may be required in areas such as spectrum allocation to ensure adequate supply in countries lacking fixed access network competition.
The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD)'s latest bi-annual Communications Outlook report found wireless data is increasingly offloaded to fixed networks due to spectrum availabilty constraints.
Smartphones are shoring up revenues for telcos, the OECD said, with data services growing at double digit rates in most countries. Transport of data is now the biggest source of growth for network operators, with traditional services such as calls and SMS declining.
While uptake of services has shot up, residential prices for fixed and mobile telephony dropped significantly between 2010 and 2012, excluding fixed business communications.
Customers in OECD countries could expect to pay between US$13.04 for 500MB a month to US$37.17 (purchase power parity adjusted) for 10GB broadband baskets.
New Zealand was singled out in OECD report as having the most expensive 5GB basket at US$61.84 when the average price is US$24.88. Finland is the cheapest country, with a 5GB plan costing US$7.98.
Australia big spender
The OECD report noted that by the end of 2011, there were over two billion communications access paths in the member countries, with mobiles making up for 1.35 billion of these. Some 379 million analogue fixed-line connections was the next biggest item, followed by 175 million DSL lines.
Australia spent the most investing in communications access paths, at US$195.7 per total, followed by Canada (US$168) and Switzerland (US$161.4) in 2011.
The lowest spending countries were Turkey with US$26.3 per total communications access path, along with Mexico (US$39.6) and Austria (US$39.9).
On a per-capita measure, Australia was the second-highest spender in the OECD at US$329.7, behind Switzerland (US$337.1) due to increased investment in fibre-optic access in both countries.
Despite the big outlay, Australia is ranked lowly by OECD in terms of fibre connections as a percentage of total broadband subscriptions. Japan, Korea, Sweden and the Slovak Republic are at the top, along with Estonia.