PARIS: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has released updated figures for broadband use across its 30 member countries. The data shows that the number of broadband subscribers increased 26% over the year, from 157 million in December 2005 to 197m million in December 2006.

Broadband penetration rates increased from 13.5 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in December 2005 to 16.9 one year later.

The survey shows European countries have forged ahead with broadband access. In December 2006 Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Korea, Switzerland, Finland, Norway and Sweden led the OECD in broadband penetration, each with at least 26% broadband subscription.

Denmark and the Netherlands, meantime, have notched more than 30% broadband penetration.

The strongest per-capita subscriber growth over the year comes from Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Ireland. Each country added more than 5.8 subscribers per 100 inhabitants.

The US, however, is slipping in broadband use and languishes at number 15 in the 30-nation league, down from twelfth position six months ago and in sharp contrast to its number four ranking in 2001.

Telcos in several countries continue to upgrade to fibre optic connections. Fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-building subscriptions now comprise nearly 7% of all broadband connections in the OECD and the percentage is growing. In Korea and Japan more than 6% of broadband users are fibre-based.

Japan leads the OECD in fibre connections directly to the home with 7.9m in December 2006. Fibre subscribers alone in Japan outnumber total broadband subscribers in 23 OECD countries.

The figures show that Canada continues to lead the G7 group of industrialized countries in broadband penetration.

Data sourced from OECD; additional content by WARC staff