Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Internet infrastructure of the United States is one of the world’s best and getting better

Contradicting earlier studies, conventional wisdom and politicians’ rhetoric, European researchers say that the Internet infrastructure of the United States is one of the world’s best and getting better.

The Global Information Technology Report issued on Wednesday found that the United States now ranked fourth in the world behind just three European nations: Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. Last year the United States was ranked seventh.

The study, which has been issued annually for the last seven years, is an effort to draw a more complete picture of national network readiness.

The study was done by Insead, the business school near Paris, on behalf of the World Economic Forum, a policy and conference group based in Switzerland. It used an index generated from 68 variables including market factors, political and regulatory environment and technology infrastructure rather than just bandwidth capacity and data transmission speeds.

Some Internet industry veterans were skeptical of the positive claims about the United States compared with the rest of the world. “My gut feeling is that we don’t have the type of deployment you have abroad,” said David J. Farber, an Internet pioneer and a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. “If you are looking at broadband, we have a lot of problems. We are slow as molasses in deploying the next generation.”

The Insead assessment offers a stark contrast to other appraisals based on single measures that have portrayed the United States, the nation that invented the global data network, as both lagging and declining in the broadband boom. Last year a range of statistics on global bandwidth use indicated that the United States was trailing other industrial nations in both broadband network consumption and penetration as a percentage of population.

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