The OECD has just released its Communications Outlook 2007. The report contains an incredible amount of comparative data on phone, broadband, and broadcast markets in all OECD countries. Each country will look for its own rankings (US, UK, Australia), but there has yet to be much Canadian coverage with the exception of a puzzling self-congratulatory press release from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association trumpeting data that finds that some Canadian mobile rates are cheaper than in the U.S. and Mexico and close to average across the 30 countries in the survey.
A closer examination of the report, however, finds that that Canada has little to brag out. For example:
- Canada ranked second last in the OECD for the total number of mobile subscribers. For medium mobile users, Canadian plans ranked among the most expensive in the OECD.
- Canada placed far behind other countries for innovation. For example, Bell Canada was the only Canadian telecom provider to obtain patents in the United States with four since 2003. By comparison, AT&T, British Telecom, NTT, France Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, and Korea Telecom have all obtained dozens (or hundreds) of patents in that same time frame.
- Canadian investment in telecommunications was average, trailing countries such as the US, Australia, Japan, and the UK.
- The OECD found that, on average, mobile revenue per subscriber dropped from 2003 to 2005 due to increased competition. In Canada, revenue increased during that period.
- The report reconfirms Canada's sinking ranking in broadband subscribers along with its relatively high prices for broadband (18th in both monthly pricing and per MB pricing)
While there is so much in this report that everyone can find something to either gloat or criticize, an objective reading confirms that Canada's once proud position as a communications leader has slipped and it now ranks no better than average on the world stage.