Understanding International Broadband Comparisons
56 Pages Posted: 24 May 2008
Date Written: May 2008
Discussions about broadband policy in the United States today inevitably begin by citing OECD estimates. Many analysts interpret the low ranking of the U.S. in broadband penetration relative to other OECD countries as meaning that U.S. broadband policy has been a failure.
Whatever the relationship between rankings and policy, the OECD estimates are inaccurate and therefore misleading. In fact, broadband is nearly universally available in the U.S. and the U.S. compares favorably to other rich countries in terms of broadband penetration, speeds, and in broader measures of information and communications technology.
High levels of availability, rapidly increasing penetration, increasing available speeds, and ambiguous consumer demand for faster speeds suggest that the market is working reasonably well in the U.S. The apparent lack of a general market failure suggests that any policies intended to affect broadband should be targeted narrowly to avoid directing scarce resources to areas that would not yield net benefits.
Keywords: broadband, OECD, telecommunications
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