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Vital Signs

Stuart Brotman puts forward an index that captures the ‘vitality’ of broadband internet ecosystems in five countries, and which could be a benchmarking model.

Vital Signs

Much of recent scholarly research in the field of broadband development has taken a limited approach to analysing the broadband internet ecosystem, such as by focusing on several performance metrics that represent only one of its important aspects – broadband networks (and often even more narrowly, on fixed broadband networks for residential users).

Comparisons of fixed broadband deployment to these users (although not including actual adoption data), broadband network speeds (whether actual or merely advertised), and broadband pricing (regardless of discounts that may be offered through bundling of telephony and video services into a ‘triple play’) have been advanced by some policy advocates as the critical points of comparison to evaluate broadband internet development. Policy discussion in the US and many other countries has become narrowly focused on raising these metrics nationally.

This approach is flawed at many levels. First, although it might compare countries, which is the most useful unit of analysis, it often does so by mixing and matching data that measure different things (actual vs advertised broadband network speeds, for example). This can skew upward the perception that some countries are substantially outperforming other countries. These comparisons also may reflect data that are five or more years old – a generation ago in internet time.

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