How is the OECD Different From the FCC? OECD Takes Its Number Seriously.

I must laugh at the recent back and forth on the recent national broadband rankings by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Back in December, OECD released its latest set of statistics for broadband penetration for its 30 member states. While the U.S. had the greatest number of broadband subscribers (defined as speed in excess of 256 KBPS one way), we still ranked 14th overall on number of subscribers as a percentage of population (the traditional way of measuring phone penetration).

What these figures do or do not mean I leave to others to debate. OTOH, if we had this kind of crappy penetration in plain old telephone (POTS) or power, we’d be a developing country. OTOH, broadband deployment is still relatively new and the other countries that have pulled ahead of us all have different circumstances that arguably distinguish it from us. No, my point here is merely to highlight the amusing battle of words between the OECD and a consulting firm called Market Clarity. Market Clarity recently issued a report challenging the validity OECD stats.

So far pretty ho hum. Then the fun begins with this OECD Response. It appears that, unlike our FCC, which can run silent for years about possible funny business in its numbers (until prodded by a change in Congress, it decides to ask for advice on how to suck less), the OECD takes its reporting rather seriously. As a consequence, they wasted no time in explaining to Market Clarity, with all the snark that serious researchers reserve for telling hired guns they are ignorant wankers, that Market Clarity didn’t know what the heck it was talking about.

Not to be outdone, Market Clarity quickly issued its own delightfully snarky response to the OECD response.

I have no idea where this ends up, as it rapidly devolves into a series of exchanges like: “While we welcome serious interest and robust public debate, you couldn’t regress your way out of a paper bag!” “Oh yeah, well for an organization with the 30 most powerfull economies as members, you’d think they’d hire some folks who can do basic math!” All I can say is that the Aussies seem to be having more fun with their public policy. And at that I wish our FCC took as much professional pride in their work product as the OECD.

Of course, the FCC would have to do work to be proud of rather than outcome-driven “research” first. But maybe someday . . .

Stay tuned . . . .


  1. Thanks for the links, Harold. I knew Market Clarity (“Market Obfuscation” must have been taken) had challenged the OECD but hadn’t known about the snarky responses, lovely.

    On an unrelated note, are you familiar with What do you think of their work?

  2. Ben:, aka the Washington Internet Project, is one of the great gems of web. About ten years ago, Bob Cannon set it up to provide a comprehensive and neutral source of information for ISPs and members of the public who wanted to get involved in policy and didn;t know where to begin. He and a handful of volunteers have continued to make this happen on their own time and using their own resources.

    I’ll add that Bob Cannon is a friend of mine and I think very highly of him as a person for reasons independent of Cybertelecom. But Bob’s tireless efforts in the late 1990s through Cybertelecom and elsewhere to make policy accessible before the birth of the “media reform movement” deserve applause and recognition as one of the first succesful efforts in broadening the policy debate.

  3. Harold,

    Off topic, but I thought you should know: I took the greengrocer’s apostrophe out of “its” (“it’s”) in your heading. It was driving me nuts.

    Otherwise I’ll assume your article is brilliant as usual so will not bother to further comment at this time. Perhaps will do so after having read same.


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