FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Mobile broadband subscriptions outnumbered people in developed nations for the first time last year as access costs fell amid increased regulation and competition, an OECD report published on Friday said.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found there were 1.31 billion mobile broadband subscriptions by June 2017 in a population of 1.28 billion people among its 35 member states in the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
The subscriber data, collected from governments and telecom operators in OECD countries, does not show how lines were used. Since some users hold multiple subscriptions, the percentage of a country’s population with mobile data plans cannot be deduced.
Among countries in the study, the fastest growth in mobile subscriptions between 2014 and 2017 was seen in Poland (33 percent), Chile (24 percent), Slovenia (23 percent), Austria (23 percent) and Turkey (22 percent), the OECD said.
Meanwhile, the prices mobile operators pay one another to connect calls on each others’ networks dropped by an average of 42 percent in OECD countries in the three years ending in 2017, which resulted in lower prices for consumers.
The sharpest reductions came in Mexico (84 percent), Hungary (80 percent) and Ireland (73 percent). Inter-carrier rates for so-called “termination” fees remained highest in Switzerland, while in the United States a new system known as “bill-and-keep” cut the rates carriers were required to pay each other to zero.
Sweden stood out in making use of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, an emerging market which includes vehicles with internet connections. The Scandinavian country had 101.5 M2M subscriptions per 100 inhabitants based on June 2017 data.
A second tier of nations - New Zealand, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands - followed at a distance with between 20 and 30 M2M connections per 100 people. Slovenia, Greece, Chile and Mexico made negligible use of M2M connections.
Only two of the world’s 10 most populous countries - United States and Japan - are included in the data, which covered 35 organization members plus Colombia, which is in talks to join the group. Twenty six OECD members are European.
Reporting by Eric Auchard; Editing by Mark Potter