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October 23, 2008

Report: U.S. Needs New Policies to Gain Lead in Global Broadband Market

By Nathesh, TMCnet Contributor

In a recent report, Strategy Analytics (News - Alert) indicated that the U.S. broadband market needs new strategies to compete globally. Once considered at the forefront of Internet innovation, the firm said, the U.S. now trails other countries.
The report, “Sputnik Moment: The Call for a National Broadband Policy,” suggests that only a coordinated and coherent national broadband plan will allow the U.S. to regain its leadership role.
Strategy Analytics specializes in examining opportunities and disruptive forces in the areas of automotive electronics/entertainment, broadband connected homes, and mobile and wireless systems.
“Through inertia, complacency and false security, the United States was late out of the broadband starting gate, and has barely begun the game of catch up,” said Ben Piper, director of Strategy Analytics’ Multiplay Market Dynamics service, in a statement. “The issue transcends one of simple national pride—the enormous economic and social effects of broadband warrant immediate action.”
Piper drew parallels between the events that followed the launching of the Sputnik satellite by Russia in the 1950s. The U.S. then became obsessed with making its own mark in space, and this fueled technology development that spilled over into other fields as well. The U.S. now faces a similar situation with regard to broadband, and will need new policies to re-create the kind of results that occurred after Sputnik.
In addition to assessing the current global and national state of play for broadband, the report addressed the critical role broadband plays in society, and highlighted the need for a comprehensive and rational broadband policy.
U.S. government officials in 2004 announced a goal of providing affordable and universal broadband access to US citizens by the year 2007. Despite this, Strategy Analytics said, the U.S. has been overtaken by other countries on number of fronts, including broadband penetration, availability, speed and affordability.
During the 1990s, the standard Internet connectivity speed in the U.S. was at 28 Kbps. Today, service providers offer speeds ranging from 3 Mbps to 11 Mbps. Even though this speed is way higher than many countries, the U.S. still lags behind Japan and South Korea, where average speeds are closer to 50 Mbps.
Other industry surveys back up Strategy Analytics’ claims, indicating that the U.S.’s world ranking in terms of  broadband penetration dropped from 17th to 19th place during the first two quarters of 2008.

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Nathesh is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Nathesh's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Mae Kowalke

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