The NBN is critical to improving Australia's lagging broadband ranking in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, said parliamentary secretary for broadband, Ed Husic.
Australia continues to trail other countries on fibre and other forms of fixed broadband, but remains near the top for wireless broadband penetration, according to a report from the OECD released last week.
At the end of 2012, Australia was number 18 among OECD countries on the total number of fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, with total penetration at about 25 per cent. Most of the connections, nearly 21 out of the 25, were DSL.
Fibre accounted for only 1.6 per cent of all broadband connections in Australia. Around the world, Japan had the highest fibre penetration at 66.7 per cent, followed closely by Korea with 61.2 per cent penetration. The United Kingdom had 5 per cent and the United States had 7.36 per cent fibre penetration.
“The Labor Government has long recognised the need to lift Australia’s position in the ranking of broadband penetration in the OECD," Husic told Computerworld Australia "Only building Labor’s NBN will ensure we have the broadband services that are essential for a 21st Century economy."
Switzerland had the best fixed broadband penetration among OECD countries, with 43.4 per cent penetration. The UK was number 8 with 34.3 per cent penetration, while the US was number 15 with 28.8 per cent.
However, Australia was number three for wireless broadband penetration, with 103.4 subscriptions per 100 people. Only Finland (106.5) and Sweden (104.8) had higher wireless broadband penetration. After Australia was Korea (103), Denmark (97.2) and the US (89.8).
More broadband statistics from the 2013 report are available on the OECD website.
The Competitive Carriers Coalition said a lack of market competition was to blame for low fibre and fixed broadband penetration in Australia. The group called for a comprehensive market review.
“The CCC believes that the wide availability of high speed broadband in a highly competitive market should be a priority for policy makers,” it said. “However the same principles apply whether the method is fibre to the node or fibre to the home.”
Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam