The United States is ranked 7th worldwide in a Networked Readiness Index in a new report issued by the World Economic Forum. The index is based on a variety of economic and political as well as technical factors.
This is in contrast to last year’s OECD report, based on tighter criteria of bandwidth and connectivity, that ranked the United States 19th worldwide.
From a N.Y. Times article about the report:
An O.E.C.D. economist acknowledged the nuances in
taking into account government regulatory and related
factors, and said it was hard to draw a single
conclusion from the data. “I think we can say that a
lot of the situation in the United States is a result
of the lack of competition,” said Taylor Reynolds, an
economist in the Internet and Telecommunications Policy
section of the O.E.C.D. “In Europe we have adopted an
unbundling strategy wholeheartedly.”
That has led to more competition in markets outside the
United States, he said, which in turn has driven
Internet service providers elsewhere to offer speedier
service and lower prices.
One aspect of global competition that is being watched
closely, he added, is the way fiber optic networks are
being introduced in different regions. Even though the
United States has begun to accelerate the availability
of fiber optic services, it is lagging Europe and Asia
in network speeds.
While Verizon is offering 50 megabit FIOS in the United
States, 100 megabit services are common in Europe, and
the Japanese are offering 1 gigabit services.
Still, there are puzzling aspects to the American
market, which has higher broadband availability than
many countries but lower adoption rates. More customers
have retained dial-up services than most countries,
which might be explained by price or lack of attractive
The report concludes:
Establishing a pervasive and prosperous Internet culture
is as much about creating the right business environment
as it is about adopting the right technology. If governments-
national, regional, and municipal – want to
harness the potential of ICT, they must not only invest
in ICT infrastructure and the capabilities to support it,
but also be ready to modify their countryâ€™s relevant
institutional setting – or ICT ecosystem – to allow ICT
to yield its transformative powers.