Over the last 12 months broadband connections in Australia have more than doubled, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Snapshot of Broadband Deployment, an update of which was issued today.
"The report shows that as at the end of March 2003, there were 423,600 broadband services connected across Australia, up from 199,800 at the same time last year", ACCC Chairman, Professor Allan Fels, said.
However, the per quarter growth rate remains flat, with growth of 16.5% across January-March 2003, mirroring the 16.4% growth between October-December 2002. This remains below the growth rate in the previous two quarters â?? 21% between July-September 2002 and 29.2% across April-June 2002.
"It is encouraging that the growth rate over the last quarter remained steady rather than continuing to decline", Professor Fels said. "This is still of concern, however, as Australia is lagging behind many other developed nations in terms of broadband take-up".
The OECD ranks Australia 19th in terms of the number of broadband users per 100 inhabitants. NOIE data also shows low levels of household broadband take-up comparative to other developed countries only 5% of Australian home internet connections are via broadband, much lower than Hong Kong (52%), Singapore (25%), the US (19%) and France (13%).
"Broadband markets in Australia will need to develop much more quickly if Australia is to retain, let alone improve, its comparative international position".
In terms of technologies, digital subscriber line (DSL) now has the edge over cable for the first time.
"DSL has now surpassed cable as the pre-eminent broadband technology in Australia", Professor Fels said. "There are 218,800 DSL services connected compared to 194,900 cable services". ADSL increased from 64,200 in March 2002 to 160,600 in March 2003. Over the same time frame, other DSL services increased from 3900 to 58,200 services. By comparison cable has grown by 54.5% over the same period, increasing from 124,200 in March 2002 to 191,900 in March 2003.
The ACCC continues to work to promote competition in broadband markets. It will be expanding its monitoring of broadband take-up in the near future, in line with a May 2003 direction from the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. "The new reporting regime will provide more detailed information on the level of competition in the broadband services market across Australia", Professor Fels said. "This complements other broadband monitoring work being carried out by the ACCC".
There will be one more broadband report in the current format, detailing broadband take-up to the end of June 2003. The September 2003 figures will be provided in the new format.
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