Wednesday, 12 August 2009

OECD publishes Communications Outlook 2009

UPDATE the next morning: Tad Reynolds of the OECD commented below and on the OECD Facebook page. The OECD Facebook page contains a bit more stats. I knew I should have called Tad at midnight, just to ask him to clarify, but I didn't otherwise I would have written a totally different article (something along the lines of OECD publishes unclear chapter in Comms Outlook 2009. Here are Tads comments.

Thanks Rudolf. The OECD basket methodologies define a number of calls (rather than minutes) which then can vary in terms of duration. So the high basket covers 1680 calls (which works out to 2952 minutes per year) using the methodology. This works out to around 4 hours a month of outgoing calls which is a good size in Europe but on the low end of typical consumption patters in Canada and the United States.

We will work to correct and clarify the situation in the PDF version.

Original: It's here, it's full of statistics! Statistics we can all fight over! The OECD Communications Outlook 2009 (in online PDF) is every telco business/regulatory geeks best friend! And boy have I found some statistics to fight over already on page 280.

It aren't even the broadband stats, sorry haven't looked at them yet. Nope, the mobile pricing stats are the one's I want to start a fight over. I don't know who, but someone in the mobile industry convinced the polite and naive OECD that 760 mobile minutes (outgoing) per year is medium usage and 1680 minutes per year is high usage. That is respectively 65 minutes and 140 minutes per month. As I wrote in a previous post the average usage in most of Telenor's countries of operation is higher then that. Developing nations like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand all reach these numbers. Only Serbia doesn't.

In the USA (as the OECD reports as well) the average usage is 5-6 times this number. And as the US is a country with high fixed an low usage costs, it gets an especially bad deal in this comparison. The OECD acknowledges this, but I hope that next year the medium usage will be at least at the medium usage of countries like Sweden, Denmark or The Netherlands (200-300 minutes).(and now I will take my medication and calm down again)


  1. Also, looking into the numbers in detail, it seems that:
    a) The numbers are based on a single tariff of a single operator. It does not seem to be the most favourable tariff, and it tends to be the dominant operator.
    b) Numbers are August 2008... there are much better deals now (I estimate a savings of about 50% in Spain for the high use, the country I know best).

  2. Hi Rudolf,

    Thanks for the tip and we're sorry for the confusion. The methodology actually counts "calls", not "minutes" so the consumption patterns are actually more generous. The calls defined in the basket can be several minutes long and to various destinations.

    We will modify the text in the report to clarify that and repost the PDF online.

    The idea of the basket methodology is to develop a "typical" low, medium and high use basket across OECD countries. We take this typical profile and then locate the lowest-priced offer in the each country which corresponds to that same use pattern.

    We meet with operators and governments every 3 years to update the calling profiles based on actual customer data across OECD countries. That enables us to have an updated "standard" profile to use for the benchmark.


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