NZ ranked in top ten for wireless uptake

By Ben Chapman-Smith

An OECD report says New Zealand had just under 3 million subscribers to wireless broadband in December 2011. Photo / AP
An OECD report says New Zealand had just under 3 million subscribers to wireless broadband in December 2011. Photo / AP

An OECD report has ranked New Zealand in the top ten out of 34 member countries for the proportion of wireless broadband subscribers per capita.

Within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) area, total wireless broadband subscriptions grew from 590 million in June 2011 to 667 million by December 2011.

Korea topped the list, with 100.6 per 100 inhabitants subscribed to wireless, according to the OECD Broadband Portal report released today.

New Zealand placed 9th, with 67.5 subscribers per 100 inhabitants. This compared to Sweden (2nd) with 98 subscribers per 100 and Australia (8th) with 74.4 per 100. The OECD average was 54.3.

New Zealand's placing was encouraging and the report makes for good reading, said Paul Brislen, head of the Telecommunications Users' Association of NZ (TUANZ).

"We're doing really well. We've broken through the OECD average for the number of people connecting.

"We were in the bottom three countries consistently for a long time."

In total, New Zealand had 2,946,260 subscribers to wireless broadband at the end of last year. Most of these were people connecting to mobile broadband.

Brislen said New Zealand was finally starting to see some real competition in the market, enabling users to sign up to wireless more easily.

"We've spent a lot of time in the last 10 years regulating the mobile industry and I think the benefits of that are starting to come through."

Wireless broadband technologies include mobile, satellite, and terrestrial fixed wireless.

Orcon's communications manager Quentin Reade said the wireless figures certainly reflected what the company was seeing.

"Smartphone and tablet use is skyrocketing, and people are increasingly connecting to the internet wherever they go.

"We are a very internet-savvy nation, which loves the internet, and want access to the web at all times. It's become integral to the way that many of us live our lives."

The OECD report also looked at fixed broadband uptake, comprising connection through DSL, cable or Fibre/LAN.

New Zealand ranked in 17th place with 26.9 fixed broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants. That was behind the UK (8th), the US (15th), and Japan (16th), but ahead of Australia (21st).

Around 86 per cent of New Zealand homes now have broadband, Reade said.

"We suspect this is near saturation point, but it will be interesting to see what happens as the Ultra Fast Broadband rollout progresses and services such as pay TV move to the internet.

"We believe we'll see the number of connections increase slightly over coming years."

Switzerland topped the rankings for fixed broadband, with 39.9 subscribers per 100 inhabitants, followed by the Netherlands (39.1) and Denmark (37.9). The OECD average was 25.6.

Orcon predicts that by the end of 2019, 1.2 million Kiwi premises will have access to fibre and 28 per cent of these will be completed by July 2013.

A recent report from TrueNet into the nationwide broadband market showed Telecom offered the fastest web-browsing speeds over copper internet lines.

Vodafone led the market in this area from December to May.

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