More mobile gadgets than people? Seven countries - including Australia - now qualify

Wireless broadband subscriptions have passed 100 per cent penetration in Australia which is now second in the world: OECD

Map of OECD countries

Map of OECD countries

Wireless broadband subscriptions now outnumber people in seven countries as consumers continue to snap up smartphones and tablets, according to a new report.

The big seven in order are: Finland, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, South Korea and the US. All had wireless broadband penetration of more than 100 per cent as of December 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said.

That means there was more than one wireless broadband subscription per person, usually because consumers have more than one mobile device that can go online. The US just barely crossed the bar, while Finland led the group with more than 123 per cent penetration with Australia just behind.

Across all 37 OECD countries, wireless broadband penetration rose to 72.4 per cent as total subscriptions grew 14.6 per cent. The group spans North America, Australia, New Zealand, and much of Europe, as well as Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Israel, Mexico and Chile. It's sometimes treated as a barometer of the developed world.

Wired broadband subscriptions also grew in 2013, reaching an average of 27 per cent penetration. That means there was just over one wired subscription per four people: Wired broadband services, such as cable and DSL (digital subscriber line), typically are shared.

Switzerland led in that category with 44.9 per cent penetration, followed by the Netherlands and Denmark. The U.S. had just under 30 wired subscriptions per 100 people, while Turkey came in last with just over 11.

DSL still makes up a majority of wired broadband subscriptions, at 51.5 per cent, followed by cable with 31.2 per cent. Fiber-optic grew to a 16.7 per cent share, gradually replacing DSL services. Fiber more than doubled its share of the market in the U.K. and also gained strongly in Spain, Turkey and France.

While those countries still have relatively low fiber penetration, Japan and Korea continued to lead the OECD for that technology. Nearly 70 per cent of all wired broadband in Japan goes over fiber, and almost 65 per cent in Korea.

The OECD has compiled some of its broadband statistics on a portal page. For all the technologies it tracks, the group uses a generous definition of broadband as a service capable of at least 256K bits per second downstream.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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Stephen Lawson

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