There is a constant refrain that the United States is falling behind in broadband, as if the speed of Internet service in Seoul represents a new Sputnik that is a challenge to national security.
It’s certainly true that in some countries, like South Korea, far more homes have broadband connections than in the United States. And the speeds in some countries are far higher than is typical here.
But there are many ways to measure the bandwidth wealth of nations. At the Columbia/Georgetown seminar on the broadband stimulus yesterday, I heard Leonard Waverman, the dean of the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, describe a measure he developed called the ‘Connectivity Scorecard.’ It’s meant to compare countries on the extent that consumers, businesses and government put communication technology to economically productive use.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
How to Measure Broadband Connectivity?
I've posted a number of times on the sad state of high-speed broadband Internet penetration in this country. In most measures, the US usually hovers around 15th to 17th in the list, behind countries such as South Korea. This NYTimes blog points to interesting solution to the problem - redefine how you measure broadband connectivity. While I'm all for better ways of measuring data, this new definition seems a bit amorphous. The ‘Connectivity Scorecard’ attempts to "compare countries on the extent that consumers, businesses and government put communication technology to economically productive use." But, how do we define productive? Can you filter out the countless and unreported hours people spend at work receiving and sending personal email, dealing with SPAM, shopping online, or reading TMZ? Probably not. I think this metric also misses the point of getting our kids (rural and inner city) connected so that they can compete. Back to the drawing board!Surprise: America is No. 1 in Broadband