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Understanding International Broadband Comparisons 2009 Update

Technology Policy Institute Working Paper

28 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2009  

Scott Wallsten

Technology Policy Institute

Date Written: July 8, 2009


This paper updates my May 2008 analysis of cross-country broadband data where new information is available. Household broadband adoption continues to increase quickly in all OECD countries. U.S. household broadband penetration increased from 47 percent in March 2007 to 63 percent in April 2009, meaning the U.S. ranks somewhere between 8th and 10th in household broadband penetration among OECD countries. If current trends continue, the U.S. and nearly all wealthy OECD countries will reach a saturation point within the next few years. Speeds continue to increase around the world. Four OECD countries — Korea, Japan, Sweden, and the Netherlands at 18, 15, 12, and 9.4 mbps — had average download speeds well above others in the first quarter of 2009. Another 12 countries had average download speeds between 6 and 8 mbps, including the U.S. with an average of 6.4 mbps. Though the U.S. has, on average, slower download speeds than some other countries, consumers in the U.S. download far more movies and music per capita via the Internet than do consumers in the U.K, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, or Japan (the only countries considered in a recent Ofcom study), suggesting that these speeds are not seriously hindering growth in online video. In terms of prices, the U.S. appears to have among the least expensive low-end broadband plans but among the more expensive high-end plans. More broadly, the U.S. remains at or near the top of many other ICT indicators including the latest estimates of IT investment.

Keywords: broadband, Internet, OECD, ICT

JEL Classification: l5, l96, l98

Suggested Citation

Wallsten, Scott mname, Understanding International Broadband Comparisons 2009 Update (July 8, 2009). Technology Policy Institute Working Paper. Available at SSRN: or

Scott Wallsten (Contact Author)

Technology Policy Institute ( email )

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Suite 520
Washington, DC 20001
United States


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