America’s Not Really Tops In Broadband
Americans are more economically productive with broadband than any other country, according to new research. But that doesn’t mean the US in number one in broadband.
Likely major ISPs and backbone providers will gleefully point to Saul Hansell’s New York Times blog—and his headline: Surprise: America is No. 1 in Broadband—in rebuttal to criticism of how they’ve built out their networks.
The Connectivity Scorecard, developed by Leonard Waverman, dean of Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, offers a holistic comparison of how governments, businesses, and consumers use the Internet for economic productivity. No surprise the US rocked that category—we’re always working, man.
And we’re working on slower connections than over a dozen other countries. Think how productive we’d be if we had speeds comparable to Japan or Korea. That’s been the point of the criticism against the broadband that’s available. It’s not, as Hansell puts it, about “a new Sputnik” challenge.
The broadband problem has been that a handful of companies hamper competition by operating, if areas are lucky, duopolies, and even limit speed roll-outs and network advancements because of artificial, gradual speed build-up profit schemes.
Worse, the US government gave them $200 billion 1996 to keep America ahead in the broadband game, and they spent that money on long distance instead. The consequence of that is the US shares a place on the broadband list with Mexico and Turkey.
If the US is number one in using broadband for economic growth, then that’s thanks to the good old American workaholic spirit, not to cable and phone companies handicapping their systems.