Mobile broadband is now used by almost everyone within the 35-member group of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, the OECD announced yesterday. According to its latest report, mobile broadband reached 95 out of every 100 inhabitants in these countries, up from 86 last year. This resulted from the addition of 123 million new broadband subscriptions -- a growth of 11.3% year-on-year -- for a total of 1.214 billion subscriptions across a total OECD member population of 1.27 billion.
In fact, 12 member states (Japan, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the US, Estonia, Australia, South Korea, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand and Switzerland) now have more than 100% penetration of mobile broadband (i.e., some citizens have more than one mobile phone with a corresponding data package).
Formed in 1961, the OECD's goal is to facilitate collaboration between governments to improve global living standards. The organization collates data on a range of economic indicators and analyzes it to determine trends in areas such as global flows of trade and investment, identifying key drivers of economic, social and environmental change. It also set international standards on commodities such as foodstuffs, chemicals and taxes.
OECD Mobile Broadband Subscriptions Per 100 Inhabitants, by Technology, June 2016
Note: June 2016 data for Israel, Switzerland & the US are estimates. Colombia is in the process of accession to the OECD. Dedicated mobile data subscriptions are mostly data-only; standard mobile broadband subscriptions are mainly voice plus data.
The study also found that IoT connections grew 20% in the past year, particularly in Sweden, New Zealand, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands (in terms of the number of M2M SIM cards in use), though the organization said that its data was not yet fully comparable for all countries. According to its estimates, Sweden has 77 M2M SIM cards per 100 inhabitants today, well ahead of any other country.
The growth of mobile broadband within largely developed countries is interesting as it helps us identify the potential market for new services. What's more interesting from a video perspective is the connection speed available, or bit-rate. The OECD does provide advertised speeds for its member countries, but has not updated these since last year. But the 2015 data does offer some surprises.
Estonia offers the fastest advertised speeds within the OECD at 300 Mbit/s (though it's not clear how widely this is available within the country), followed by the Czech republic and France at 225 Mbit/s and 220 Mbit/s respectively. The US was among the slowest, at 42 Mbit/s, and the UK was also fairly low at 60 Mbit/s. Even South Korea, a very advanced mobile market, only offered 75 Mbit/s, while Japan was much higher, at 150 Mbit/s.
There are two important caveats to this information, though. First, the data is a year old and may not include much of the 4G investment that has occurred since. Also, this is the fastest advertised speed within each country, so coverage may be very limited.
Still, even 42 Mbit/s is plenty for a video streaming service. Even 4K/UHD streams aimed at the TV are 20-25 Mbit/s, so mobile video services should be easily supported -- in theory. In practice, of course, it's a matter of how busy the network is and how much capacity is available at the time you are streaming, in the specific area you are in. Other factors can also influence user experience.
But this data does suggest that the time is right for the new wave of mobile social streaming services that the likes of Facebook , Snapchat and Periscope are trying to engineer.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation