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Facts Vital in Broadband Debate

Facts Vital in Broadband Debate

Posted by Shara Evans in Press Releases 15 May 2007

New Research Casts Doubt on the Value of the OECD League Table


Sydney , AUSTRALIA – 15 May 2007 — Sydney-based telecommunications analyst firm Market Clarity has published an analysis of the OECD’s broadband “league table” which casts doubt on the accuracy and methodology of the international assessment.

The analysis, based on raw data sourced from national statisticians and telecommunications regulators, concludes that the OECD mis-reported broadband subscriber numbers for 28 out of its 30 member nations in its June 2006 analysis (published in September, 2006). Market Clarity devoted close to 400 hours of analyst time scrutinising documents from more than 60 sources from all 30 OECD nations.

“The broadband debate in Australia is of huge national importance and involves billions of dollars,” said Market Clarity CEO Shara Evans. “It’s vital that the broadband debate be based on facts.

“Yet we too easily accept outside assessments of our performance without asking whether those assessments are accurate.”

The OECD also fails to allow for inevitable error margins which will occur in any statistical analysis, Evans believes.

“In the OECD’s much-vaunted ‘league table’ there are distinct clusters of countries whose adoption rates are so close to each other the gap between them is smaller than a margin of error of 5%. Yet without a rigorous discussion of possible errors both in population statistics and broadband subscriber data, readers of the OECD tables have no way to test the fairness of their country’s score,” Ms Evans said.

The Market Clarity analysis also found that although the OECD sets 256 Kbps as its minimum benchmark for inclusion as a broadband customer, this information is not collected by 14 out of 30 OECD nations.

Some nations also lag others in their broadband data-collection, with some national statisticians and / or competition regulators having no new data published since as long ago as December 2005, with a major knock-on impact on the reliability of the data.

“New Zealand certainly have cause to complain,” Evans said. “We can see no reason why 65,000 broadband customer connections in New Zealand’s seem to be missing from the OECD’s calculations. Hungary also seems to be under-estimated.

“On the other hand, some countries’ OECD estimates, such as Mexico and Poland, seem to be overestimated, as compared to data published by the national statistical bodies.”

Evans also noted that countries have widely varying concentrations of business versus residential subscribers. “In some countries, business customers make up nearly half of the broadband population,” she explained. “If the business customers are treated as part of the total, it presents an incorrect impression of the rate of broadband adoption ‘per 100 head of population’, which is the OECD’s own statistical benchmark.”

Likewise, housing density is also ignored in the OECD breakdowns. “Most broadband technologies are designed to serve locations rather than individuals,” Evans explained, “so the number of people living in a household impacts how broadband adoption is assessed.

“Once broadband is connected to a home, it’s unlikely to need a second connection. So a country with large households on average, such as the Republic of Slovakia within the OECD, will appear unfairly disadvantaged compared to countries with smaller households such as Sweden or Switzerland.”

Because of the importance of the broadband debate, Evans said Market Clarity has decided to make this research available free of charge on its Website. Market Clarity’s Broadband Wars: The OECD’s International Broadband Arms Race is available for free download.

“If we believe broadband is important, then we need to be able to base our national debate on facts. We hope that this research will prove valuable to the industry, its regulators, the public and the political sphere,” Evans said.

Evans will be launching the research today at ATUG’s Regional Conference in Canberra.


About Market Clarity

Market Clarity is an award-winning telecommunications analyst firm founded in January 2006 by leading Australian telecommunications researcher and strategic consultant, Shara Evans. The firm covers all aspects of telecommunications, including traditional and converged services and technologies. Market Clarity’s extensive databases of technical and market information cover a wide range of facts and figures on the technologies and services that are shaping the Australian telecommunications market. Market Clarity’s GIS tools and research databases enable the correlation and presentation of highly complex information in an intuitive geographic (map) format.

Market Clarity’s insights are derived from a deep understanding of technology, coupled with comprehensive research, which examines each segment of a service’s value chain as well as underlying population demographics. By leveraging its engineering knowledge with an ongoing primary research program, Market Clarity provides insight, intelligence and advice on all aspects of the Australian telecommunications market including traditional, converged and future technologies. Market Clarity’s unparalleled market knowledge and research databases are brought to all consulting engagements.

Market Clarity’s contribution to telecommunications in Australia was recognised by the telecommunications industry’s peak body, the Communications Alliance, which awarded the company its 2007 ACOMMS award for Services to the Industry – Professional Services.

Market Clarity is headquartered in Sydney, Australia.