The state of the Union is better than some claim, at least when it comes to broadband networks, according to a new study that analyzes broadband networks and service across the 34 developed nations that are member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The U.S. actually ranks among the world leaders when it comes to broadband, contradicting assertions that it “is significantly lagging other nations in broadband and that we are falling even farther behind,” according to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.
“Despite the frequent claims that the United States lags in international broadband comparisons, the studies cited to support this argument are out-of-date, poorly-focused, and/or analytically deficient,” according to ITIF president Rob Atkinson. “Through this report we identify multiple areas where America is doing well, where improvement is needed and most importantly the real reasons for some areas of lagging performance.”
According to ITIF’s, “The Whole Picture: Where America’s Broadband Networks Really Stand,” the U.S. ranks near the top of OECD countries when it comes to broadband deployment and adoption. “In addition, U.S. broadband speeds, while behind nations such as Korea and Japan where government has subsidized deployment of fiber optic networks, also rank in the top 10 in the world,” the ITIF says.
The U.S. ranks ahead of Europe’s EU-15 but behind about half of the OECD when it comes to broadband adoption rates, but that’s not due to the cost or availability of broadband, ITIF analysts found. Rather, it’s because so few U.S. households own computers or have an interest in buying one.
Comparing adoption rates for households with computers across the OECD, the U.S. ranks near the top, only four percentage points behind the leader and three percentage points above the EU-15’s average of 85.9, according to the ITIF.
Comparing broadband prices across the OECD, ITIF found that the U.S. has the second-lowest prices for introductory-level broadband, though it does rank lower when it comes to prices for faster broadband.
This isn’t the result of broadband providers seeking to boost their profit margins, however, according to ITIF. Profits of U.S. broadband providers are the fourth lowest in the OECD, ITIF found.
“The price differential is the result of the fact that the U.S. has the second least densely populated urban areas in the OECD…and has devoted relatively little in tax dollars to subsidizing broadband in comparison to other nations,” ITIF states.
“Taking into account the high cost of operating and upgrading broadband networks in a largely suburban nation and the wide economic diversity of our population, the U.S. has made significant progress in creating a vibrant and high-quality broadband ecosystem,” commented ITIF senior research fellow Richard Bennett.
“Overall, the state of broadband in the U.S. is strong, but new initiatives are required to address our key challenge in particular: the relatively large share of Americans who do not own or know how to use a computer.” Atkinson concluded.