We’re Number…Five?

The OECD has released global broadband usage rates as of December 2004. This statistic was a matter of pride in Canada for the past several years. While South Korea holds a large lead over the rest of the world, Canadian officials wanted to ensure that everyone knew that Canada was number two.

No longer. The OECD numbers show Canada dropping to fifth place, having been overtaken by the Netherlands, Denmark, and Iceland. Moreover, it looks like Canada is likely to drop further next year as the European countries are growing at a much faster rate.

Does any of this matter? In certain respects, no. There remains lots of room for growth in Canada given that more than 80 percent of the population has access to broadband. On the other hand, the data is troubling. Canada’s broadband strategy has lagged, the majority of Canadian communities do not have access to broadband, and our reliance on cable vs. telco competition to fuel the broadband market appears to have stalled. I think it is time for policy makers to refocus on this issue as broadband is an important part of e-government, e-commerce, and cultural participation. Looking at primarily as an access issue won’t be enough, however. There are apparently millions of Canadians who don’t want broadband even with access to it. Why? Perhaps they have broadband access at work. Or maybe they’re tired of spam, spyware, phishing, lawsuits, and other ills. I don’t have the answer, but I do know that solving the question holds the key to reversing this trend.

One Comment

  1. I think your other article may have one
    With Rogers saying there isn’t the competition in Canada, there isn’t the incentive to make the large broadband providers push for more penetration. To get more customers they would need to lower prices, but that would cost them profits overall. Only so many people can be enticed to sign up(for 3 years) to get an iPod Nano.