Yesterday I blogged twice about the 2013 OECD Communications Outlook, a major international report issued once every two years with detailed comparative data on telecommunications throughout the developed economy world. My first post noted that Canada’s wireless performance ranks poorly, as it is among the most ten most expensive countries within the OECD in virtually every category and among the three most expensive countries for several standard data only plans. After Telus responded to my post, I followed up with a second post that examined some of the Telus-specific data used by the OECD. Those measures ranked Canada as the 2nd most expensive of 7 countries for 1 GB of wireless data (at speeds Telus customers are likely to receive) and the second most expensive of 19 countries for 500 MB of wireless data for tablets (again at speeds Telus customers are likely to receive).
The OECD report also includes comparative data on broadband services with Canada ranked among the ten most expensive countries in virtually every tier (note that the OECD measures the cost by purchasing power parity so that differences in income are factored into the analysis). For example, for plans offering 54 GB of data per month at speeds of 45 Mbit/second, Canada ranks as the 9th most expensive in the OECD. Move down a notch to 42 GB of data per month at 30 Mbit/second and Canada is the 8th most expensive country in the OECD. At slower speeds, Canada remains expensive – 33 GB of data per month at 15 Mbit/second is the 11th most expensive and for 18 GB of data per month at 2.5 Mbit/second it is the 9th most expensive.
The report also includes an interesting chart (Table 7.29) that tracks changes in broadband over the past seven years by following a single service plan from each country starting in 2005 and recording how it changes over time. The Canadian example was a Bell service that shows speed, cost, and bit cap increasing during the 8 year period. In 2005, the service was 5120 kbit/s for $50.00 per month with no bit cap. Bit caps were introduced to the plan in 2007. By 2012, the speed has increased to 15360 kbit/s and price had increased modestly to $52.17. While that may not sound unusual from a Canadian perspective, the majority of OECD countries (though not all) have experienced speed increases with price decreases. These include the following (speeds plus local currency cost):
||Same Plan in 2012
|Australia||1536 kbit/s for 129.40||20480 kbit/s for 61.90|
|Austria||2048 kbit/s for 54.90||8192 kbit/s for 18.38|
|Belgium||4096 kbit/s for 54.95||30720 kbit/s for 34.86|
|Czech Republic||1024 kbit/s for 3568||20480 kbit/s for 700|
|Denmark||4096 kbit/s for 499||20480 kbit/s for 260.06|
|Finland||24000 kbit/s for 68.9||24576 kbit/s for 33.2|
|France||18432 kbit/s for 39.90||20480 kbit/s for 36.90|
|Greece||1024 kbit/s for 32.90||2048 kbit/s for 32.31|
|Hungary||2048 kbit/s for 22188||15360 kbit/s for 4880|
|Japan||102400 kbit/s for 4064||204800 kbit/s for 3873|
|Luxembourg||3072 kbit/s for 90.50||20480 kbit/s for 79.00|
|Mexico||1024 kbit/s for 599.00||3072 kbit/s for 389.00|
|Netherlands||8192 kbit/s for 74.95||81920 kbit/s for 44.17|
|Norway||4096 kbit/s for 549||16384 kbit/s for 478|
|Poland||6144 kbit/s for 291.58||10240 kbit/s for 107.46|
|Portugal||8192 kbit/s for 59.99||24576 kbit/s for 25.49|
|Slovak Republic||1024 kbit/s for 52.74||5120 kbit/s for 13.77|
|Switzerland||2400 kbit/s for 99.00||10000 kbit/s for 74.35|
While some countries have had both speed and price increases (Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Spain, UK) or no change in speed (US, Korea), 18 of the 30 countries tracked since 2005 have experienced price and speed move in the opposite direction. The chart is anecdotal and does not account for inflation, but it highlights how the growth of broadband services in many countries have led to better speeds and lower pricing. Canada has unquestionably experienced the faster speeds, but OECD data indicates that we remain comparatively a high-cost country for broadband Internet services.