More Americans are rapidly making the switch from dial-up to broadband...but nearly as fast as 11 other high-speed countries. According to the latest estimates from Nielsen/NetRatings, the number of active U.S. broadband users who access the network from home increased 28 percent year-over-year, growing from 74.3 million in February 2005 to 95.5 million in February 2006. Time Warner sees this growth as a major initiative opportunity to expand its Interactive TV plans later this year ("Is Interactive TV Over-hyped?").
However, despite this rapid broadband growth, the U.S. continues to lag behind Europe and Asia in adopting broadband connections as a percentage of population, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (as read in yesterday's RedHerring) (subscriber log-on required). The most recent figures from December 2005 put the U.S. 12th among industrialized nations, with just 16.8 broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants. Iceland is the category's new leader, overtaking the top spot from tech-happy South Korea. In fact, Northern Europe filled seven of the top ten results. Canada -- an early investor in broadband and digital wireless tech -- remains strong in the Top 10.
In a report from the Wall Street Journal, high speed connections mean more to a nation's economy than faster downloads and better quality streaming video: "the quality of communication networks is a major determinant of productivity growth, allowing products and services to be made more efficiently and opening up new markets.
The big reason why the U.S. lags behind so many countries for broadband penetration? In the U.S., broadband development is mainly a private enterprise...while in most other countries, broadband access and infrastructure costs are offset by government investment.
Does this contribute to the increasing perception of an offshore tech gap? Quite possibly. It surely encourages more and more foreign outsourcing as communication paths speed up on the information superhighway.
Red Herring article here
WSJ.com article available with subscriber log-on
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Wednesday, April 12, 2006,