Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Statistics - How quickly is broadband adoption growing in Scotland?

According to the Scottish Household Survey, levels of households using broadband have shown relatively consistent growth in the period 2003 to 2011. While there are a couple of blips where the survey showed more growth or in one case a drop, these evened out over time.
It is therefore surprising to find that the following comment in the annual progress report:
The most recent report from Ofcom published in July 2012 shows a 7% increase in broadband take up, bringing Scotland into line with Wales and Northern Ireland (68/69%.) This is highly encouraging progress towards the participation targets described in our initial strategy and suggests that we are on the right track in ensuring that the benefits of the digital age are not confined to a few.
Whereas, OFCOM conducts a survey at the end of the first quarter of each year.
Firstly, the "growth" of 7 per cent in Scotland is unexplained(e.g., a fall in prices or increase in competition) and out of line with the historical evidence. Indeed, it looks as if a problem was the 2011 sample, which may have generated an unusually low number, but within statistical error ranges, then the 2012 number corrected this. It is highly unlikely that the OFCOM broadband survey in 2013 would show another jump of 7 per cent, a figure of 3 per cent would seem more likely.

This is also important in the comparison with Northern Ireland and Wales, which seem to have seen very little growth in the 2012 figures. Thus they might well be showing the same statistical dip as Scotland in the previous year. To conclude that in 2013 Scotland will remain at a level comparable to Northern Ireland and Wales could be thought a rather risky bet.

The relatively modest levels of broadband adoption in urban Scotland and especially in Glasgow are sufficiently well known that they must by now be influencing decisions by operators who will prefer to deploy networks in the cities of the three other nations.

The proposal to develop a new measurement framework is welcome. It will need to identify factors explaining the lower levels of adoption at sufficiently disaggregated levels to enable interventions. It must also ensure comparisons with other countries in terms of the OECD, Eurostat and the EU Digital Agenda Scoreboard.

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