Senators battle over latest OECD broadband ranking

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Senators battle over latest OECD broadband ranking

The Federal Government has used the latest OECD international broadband rankings report as a campaign tool to leverage its existing broadband policy two weeks before the November 24 election.

The report, released this week, indicated that Australia’s broadband penetration has grown by almost six percent, year on year, in 2007, putting it in fourth place in terms of growth behind Ireland, Germany, Sweden, but ahead of UK, US and Japan.

According to the report, each of the top countries has added more than five subscribers per 100 inhabitants during the past year.

The average cost of broadband in Australia for the country's estimated 4.7 million users is US$52.26 per month, US$4 more than the price of broadband in New Zealand, US$20 more than Japan but is approximately $1 cheaper than the cost in the US. Finland had the cheapest rate at US$31.18,

Senator Coonan said the Government is pleased with the OECD’s findings and took the opportunity to attack opposition leader Kevin Rudd over Labor’s future broadband policies.

“The OECD declared Australia has the 6th most affordable broadband prices in the world, the 9th fastest broadband speeds in the world, and the 4th fastest broadband connection rate in the world,” Coonan said.

“The rankings will be embarrassing for Kevin Rudd who has relied heavily on previous OECD figures to attack Australia’s international broadband standing."

She added: “Mr Rudd has falsely claimed that Australia had the slowest broadband speeds in the world and that we are even behind the Slovak Republic.”

In response to Coonan's claims, Senator for Victoria and Shadow Minister for Communications & Information Technology Stephen Conroy accused the Government of interfering with the figures provided to the OECD.

"The latest OECD figures for broadband speeds are based on advertised figures not actual speeds that Australians receive," he said. “Helen Coonan, directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to stop collecting statistics relating to broadband earlier this year, and as stated by the OECD the ABS had none available to supply. The OECD was left to base its findings on estimates provided by DCITA, resulting in Australia leap-frogging up the broadband rankings.”

Conroy added: “The reality for most Australians, particularly those living in rural and regional areas, is that they are unable to access the high speed broadband services that are only available in the major cities.”

Furthermore, the OECD figures also highlight how expensive broadband is in Australia – particularly for high bandwidth users.

The Labor Party has promised to commit up to $4.7 billion for a national broadband development scheme to reach 98 percent of the nation using fibre to the node technology claiming the system will deliver 40 times faster speeds.

The report found that the United States remains the largest broadband market in the OECD with 66.2 million subscribers. US broadband subscribers represent 30 percent of all broadband connections in the OECD.
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