Future growth in high-speed broadband is likely to come from fiber optic networks, rather than DSL or cable, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). Nearly one-tenth of OECD subscribers currently access the Internet over fiber. In Japan and Korea, fiber already predominates, and it is growing fast in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the United States.

The number of broadband subscribers in the OECD reached 271 million by June 2009, an increase of 10 percent from June 2008. Half of OECD countries have reached 25 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. The United States was in the middle of the pack, ranked 15th out of 30 countries, with a rate of 26.7 broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants.

dec09 oecd fig

Complete data and charts are available at http://www.oecd.org/sti/ict/broadband.

The economic crisis has threatened to halt this investment just as consumers and businesses are using more Internet bandwidth. Many governments have stepped in to fill the gap, using stimulus funds to pay for new broadband networks. But there is still debate about whether these investments make economic sense. A new OECD study says government investment can be justified based on even small direct benefits in just four key sectors of the economy – electricity, health, education and transportation. The full study is available here.