If You Stand On One Leg, Twist Yourself Around And Squint Into This Light... The US Is #1 In Broadband. Maybe

from the sorta dept

Well, US telcos who are sick and tired of people pointing out how far behind the US is in broadband, is certainly happy to hear about a new report that claims the US is actually #1 in broadband. But, of course, the devil is in the details and the details look pretty ridiculous. Apparently, the guy behind the study built a bizarre and somewhat meaningless "connectivity scorecard," where he measured five different factors in a variety of countries, from overall internet penetration to online banking usage to voice minutes (both wired and wireless) to SMS usage per capita and, finally, consumer spending on software. From that, he ranked the countries with the US being number one.

Of course, looking over those factors, it's difficult to see why those specific factors should be the ones measured. Or how the relative weights of those factors should be measured to have any say at all in overall connectivity. SMS usage per capita? Does that really say anything about broadband connectivity? I actually use SMS less when I'm around a broadband connection. And, consumer software spending? That would mean that a hypothetical country that relies mostly on open source technologies is considered less connected than one that buys Microsoft. Even worse, as we see more and more free "cloud" offerings, it would mean those that use something like Google Docs, rather than paying for Microsoft would be seen as less connected, even as it likely means they're more connected.
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  1. identicon
    mynameisruben, 24 Feb 2009 @ 9:01am

    Devil in the details indeed...

    I have to say, while I'm usually spot on with TD, I have to offer a dissenting opinion here (or play Devil's Advocate, if you will).

    The story here is a bit more complicated than anyone is admitting. If you read through the link and then browse the report, you'll realize quickly the original blogger has adopted several misconceptions about what the report signifies. The report admits broadband penetration in the US is lagging in consumer circles, and also admits it has run this scorecard previously and adopted alternative methodologies to include a greater scope of countries.

    the fact of the matter is, the report is not meant for use by the countries on the high end, but rather for those on the low end to know what areas to focus on for further development. It's actually a pretty interesting analysis, albeit a very subjective one. According to the reoport itself, the US doesn't score well in overall connectivity so much as it excels in "productivity" (their terminology) in the business sectors. The consumer end is still lagging. What this serves to prove for the US is that our businesses are making decent use of broadband as a revenue generator and income-growth tool, and the area we should focus on to continue improving interconnectivity is residential availability and penetration.

    Another interesting fact is Japan's ranking at number 10, which the testers also explain. They said the methodology excludes certain proprietary services that Japan has access to which could not be measured in relation with other countries (because the services are not available there). This fits with my overall impression of brand loyalty and proprietary innovation found in Japan's technology sectors; they have a lot of really innovative, but also really closed, systems of service which people use almost compulsively; by comparison, their usage of SMS and other measured technologies is very low, so you might say they're so ahead of the cut as to render them appearing backwards in this research, which again, the researchers admit. This is a necessity because, as I said, the scorecard is most beneficial to developing countries and countries interested in expeanding their interconnectivity solution offerings.

    Lastyl, I have to point out the entire report was not based on the values outlined above. this wasn't an error on Mike's part, but rather an error the original blogger seems to have made in the analysis of their report (which Mike was reacting to). The measurements he discusses were used to measure only consumer usage. The US's usage scores were good, but the consumer infractructure (what we all talk about when we say we're behind on broadband) scored worse than all other categories, and only in the "average" range, well behind the leaders. I'll finish with a direct quote from the scorecard's website (http://www.connectivityscorecard.org/):

    United States Takes Top Spot On The 2009 Connectivity Scorecard
    The United States leads more categories than any other nation on the 2009 Connectivity Scorecard. PC penetration of businesses is excellent, and the country is first overall in terms of secure server deployment. A large proportion of companies buy and sell online, business spending on IT is high, and enterprise telephony also enjoys good penetration. The percentage of revenues generated by IP and Ethernet is the one business area where the U.S. actually falls behind other nations in the sample.

    Consumer infrastructure does not score as highly for the United States as their other metrics do. Both broadband and 3G penetration are average. Fibre is being deployed on a much wider basis than in most other countries in the survey, but is still significantly behind the leaders in this area. Mobile usage is extremely high and SMS usage has also begun to grow at a rapid rate. Online government services are rated as very good.

    U.S. Connectivity Performance by Scorecard Component

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