Global Broadband Scorecard: US Ranks 23rd
“I didn’t come here to make friends.”
Any television reality show worth its weight in pork rinds will feature at least one contestant uttering those idiotic words. And while the expression has morphed into the consummate television catchphrase, it does ring true to me every year about this time, as we put together our always contentious global broadband forecast and rankings. The inbox fills up and the phone rings off the hook as regulators, operators and politicians wonder how in the world their country could somehow miss the top 10. Much like the overbearing parent calling the school principal at report card time, “There must be some mistake, junior is very advanced,” seems to be the message.
A Different Way to Look at Broadband
Over the past fifteen years, as broadband has evolved from a novelty to an accepted indicator of a country’s relative development, discussions of how best to measure and quantify broadband have grown increasingly heated.
Just last week, we launched our Broadband Composite Index (BCI). Rather than focusing solely on one measurement, this model incorporates five “metrics that matter,” applies appropriate weights, and calculates a composite score per country.
The BCI consists of 5 components:
- Broadband Penetration
Broadband Top 40…well, 57
We ran the model on a group of 57 countries to come up with our first BCI rankings.
Korea on top. Again
It is, perhaps, no surprise that South Korea leads in the overall BCI rankings, with a composite score of 9.14. Korea’s advanced broadband is widely recognized, and the nation claims the world’s highest household penetration. Koreans enjoy the fastest download speeds, and pay among the lowest per Mbps of any country. The Korean market is characterized by high PC penetration and strong government participation in broadband. Indeed, the Korean government’s treatment of broadband as a national priority has arguably catapulted the market into the top slot for the past several years.
More surprising to the casual observer of global broadband is the relative position of Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. CEE nations have, on whole, been able to benefit from the so-called technology “leapfrog effect,” effectively skipping a generation of broadband development (namely DSL), and advancing directly to fiber. This is the case for Lithuania and Romania, both of which occupy slots in our BCI “top 10.” The result of rapid “fiberization” has been high penetration and speeds, although affordability (as measured in our model) remains an obstacle.
A respectable 23rd place?
Certain to spark debate and contention is the placement of the United States (23rd place) in our index, behind certain Eastern and Southern European nations. Despite great strides in penetration—more than doubling household penetration between 2004 and 2009—America still has work to do in terms of increasing download speeds and value per Mbps. We remain optimistic that the current Administration’s focus on a national broadband policy will increase the United States’ ranking in years to come.
The phone lines are open.