increasingly seen as a catalyst for economic success. Supplying broadband
is therefore an issue for both the private and public sectors.”
is increasingly being seen as a catalyst for economic success in the
information economy. More and more economies are focused on ensuring that
access to broadband is both available and affordable to their populations.
In many developed economies, broadband access has been driven largely by
the private sector—particularly where effective competition is present
in the market—and supported by government intervention only when
necessary to correct market failure. But other governments, especially in
Asia, have developed national strategies for broadband promotion, and for
bringing broadband to regions, or to communities, that would not be among
the first to be served through the operation of market forces.
different companies have entered the broadband arena, but in the majority
of ITU Member States, the incumbent fixed-line operator has emerged as the
dominant provider, though not always the first-mover in the market. Those
countries that have prospered often have a deep-pocketed second carrier
that provides a real competitive challenge to the incumbent, such as
Hanaro Telecom in Korea or Yahoo BB! in Japan. Countries where no cable TV
network is available, or where the incumbent cross-owns both the telephone
and cable TV networks, generally lag behind their counterparts in
As of year-end 2002, broadband services were
commercially available in 82 out of over 200 economies worldwide (Figure
3, top chart). Since 2000, global broadband numbers have increased
fivefold and now stand at over 60 million. As might be expected,
penetration rates are quite closely correlated with gross national income
(GNI) per capita (Figure 3, lower chart), although Korea is a clear
outlier in this relationship.
As broadband is entering the market at a time of
technological convergence and change, supply models can vary considerably.
Some end users even build their own fibre connections to their ISP.
Typically, such initiatives—usually involving large companies or public
institutions like schools and hospitals—aim to avoid the high costs
associated with premium high-speed services from established broadband
this model, a fibre consortium may be established, consisting of a group
of customers who each own a predetermined number of dark-fibre strands
within a fibre optic cable. Each customer is responsible for providing the
electronics to light up the fibre, effectively creating separate private
networks, which can then be connected to the backbone network. In
practice, third-party professionals may carry out installation and
maintenance. In Canada, this model has been deployed in the province of
Quebec, where 26 school boards and the regional university research
network have entered into arrangements with a number of providers. The
model is also gaining in popularity among others wanting to avoid the high
cost of commercial solutions. But supply has to be adapted to actual
demand, and this requires market research to meet users’ real needs.
Countries with commercially
available broadband, (dark shading), 2002
The relationship between
broadband penetration and national income (US$ PPP)
GNI = Gross National Income; PPP = Purchasing Power Parities, Luxembourg
omitted from bottom graph but included in trend line calculations.