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Leonard Waverman

Sweden Takes Top Spot from U.S. in Global Scorecard

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WASHINGTON, February 11, 2010 – Sweden has nabbed the top spot from the United States on a global scorecard that measures nations’ digital connectivity and how it contributes to economic growth.

The study (pdf), funded in part by Nokia Siemens Networks and headed by economics professor Leonard Waverman, found that although the United States and Sweden were fierce competitors, “it appears that Sweden’s greater consistency” gave it the edge. For example, Sweden achieved good scores for consumer infrastructure, while the United States lagged behind in that category.

Authors of the Connectivity Scorecard 2010 say it’s important to note that in the areas where the United States lags Sweden, it hasn’t really closed the gap. Additionally, they say that the U.S. lead in Internet usage and in areas such as Internet banking and electronic business and commerce has “eroded somewhat.”

“In many cases, while the U.S. remains a substantially strong performer, it is now one of many rather than a clear leader,” according to the research project.

In the 2009 scorecard, the United States received an overall score of 7.71 while Sweden came in second with 7.47. In 2010, Sweden took the lead with 7.95 and the United States scored 7.77.

The researchers define “connectivity” in a broader way than just infrastructure and hardware. They say the notion of connectivity should be expanded to include complementary assets like software along with skills, which are embodied in people, governments and businesses, that determine how productively the hardware and infrastructure are used.

U.S. Takes Top Spot in Global Connectivity Study Commissioned by Nokia

in Broadband Data/International by

WASHINGTON, February 1, 2010 – The United States took the top spot on the 2009 Connectivity Scorecard, a research project linking increased national technological connectivity with socio-economic transformation.

Professor Leonard Waverman of the London Business School and economic consulting firm LECG put together the scorecard focusing on 50 countries using metrics such as national usage, skills and infrastructure.

Waverman found that the United States leads more categories than any other nation – its person computer penetration of businesses is excellent and the nation takes top prize in secure server deployment. However, he found that consumer infrastructure does not score as highly for the United States as its other metrics and its “broadband and 3G penetration are average.”

The study found that fiber is being deployed on a “much wider” basis than in most other countries in the survey, but the United States still is “significantly behind” the leaders in the area.

The United States scored 7.71 points to lead national, useful connectivity. Sweden scored second place in the study with 7.47 points, followed by Denmark (7.18), Netherlands (6.75), Norway (6.51) and the United Kingdom (6.44). The bottom five nations were Nigeria with a score of 1.30, Pakistan (1.54), Bangladesh (1.60), Kenya (1.75) and Indonesia (1.87).

LECG recently found in a broader study, which was commissioned by Nokia Siemens Networks, that increased national broadband deployment could have a significant impact on productivity and economic growth.

The study, which was part of the Connectivity Scorecard research program, focused on the impact of broadband in 15 of the 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It asserts that: “with the right skills and infrastructure in place, broadband strategies could increase national productivity and growth by up to 15 percent. This productivity improvement will increase [gross national product] without increasing resources used in production.”

For example, the United States could increase its GDP by $100 billion with an increase of 10 additional broadband lines per 100 individuals, according to the study.

Waverman will discuss his findings and offer an update on the state of global connectivity at an evening event hosted by Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business on Feb.10 at its Washington campus. His talk will address timely issues such as whether the United States will be able to maintain its pre-eminence amongst innovation-driven economies and discuss what’s the wake-up call for the world’s governments and businesses.

NTIA's Lawrence Strickling Describes Role of BTOP in Broadband Plan, Innovation Strategy

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NEW YORK, October 26, 2009 – NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling, speaking at a telecommunications conference here on Friday, said that a national broadband plan is key to the innovation strategy of the Obama administration, along with expanding research and development, increasing education and providing a strong technological ecosystem.

With regard to the Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program funding program, he said that not every good project would be funded, as there simply are not enough funds. At the same time, he said he wanted to make sure that the agency did not fund any bad projects.

Strickling was speaking at the Columbia University Institute for Tele-Information held its annual State of Telecom Conference: attendees ranged from policy makers, academics, and industry professionals from around the world. With a little more than 100 days to go until the due date for the Federal Communications Commission’s national broadband plan is due in February 20101, this year’s theme was “National Next-Generation Broadband Plans.”

Robert Pepper, Chair of CITI’s advisory board and vice president of global technology policy at Cisco Systems, opened the event with a speech on how the developing world once looked at the industrial world as a model of how information and communications technology could be used to help their citizenry with the added benefit of boosting local economic conditions. Now, the industrial world is looking to the developing world to determine which projects are best for economic stimulation.

The first panel of the day, entitled “National Broadband Plans” had representatives from the FCC, France’s Ministry of Research and State Secretariat for Digital Economy, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, along with other international officials.

Scott Wallsten, economic director of the FCC’s omnibus broadband initiative, described the intersection between the national broadband plan and the rest of the economy – including the “smart grid,’ health information and other integrated uses.

Wallsten also emphasized that broadband is a general-purpose technology which generates direct benefits and boosts the economy and society in general through the advancements made by using the technology and through peripheral usages.

Matthias Kurth, President of Germany’s Federal Network Agency, described his country’s universal broadband strategy, which seeks to bring all citizens a 1 Megabit per second (1 Mbps) connection by 2010 and an ambitious 50 Mbss connection by 2014.

Currently approximately 98% of the citizens have access to the internet, he said. Kurth highlighted the principal of funding connectivity where competition is not probable and to always remain technologically neutral in support of access.

Additionally, policy makers must look at all possible methods of connections, he said. While wireless may inherently be slower than a wired connection the goal is to bring people connectivity, once they see the value of being online they will demand a faster connection which will lead to increased investment and new wired connections. He also talked about the government encouraging industry to share installation and infrastructure costs.

Britain’s Derek Wyatt, a member of parliament and co-chairman of Parliament’s All Party Communications Group, described the proposed universal broadband obligation of the British government, 2 Mbps by 2012; which will cost around U.S. $300 million. Wyatt’s noted how his organization, Citizens Online, sent volunteers to help those individuals who have not been online understand the different uses of the Internet and how it will help them.

Strickling was the keynote speaker of the event. His general theme was about how BTOP was progressing and the use of the Internet in citizen participation in government. In addition to the role of broadband in the administration’s innovation strategy, and the BTOP program, Strickling also talked about looking at projects that can sustain themselves after they stop receiving federal funding – and those which can be replicated in other parts of the country with the use of state or private funds.

The second panel of the day was “Public/Private Finance: Cost and Benefit.” It looked at how government funding affects private investment in telecommunications. The main theme, which the panel expressed, was that government funding must be spent efficiently and with an eye on “crowding out,” or the notion that government spending should not keep private sector investment out of the market.

The panel said it was clear that some areas of the country which will not sustain a competitive broadband market should be the targets of investment. Additionally, they said, regulation must be completely evaluated to determine how it will affect future funding. The other major point made by the panel was that the last-mile is not the only limiting factor, and that middle-mile and backbone also need to get government support to prevent bottle necks. The need for information and communications technology investment was best displayed by Leonard Waverman, Dean of the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, who showed that 1 additional broadband line per 100 people increases productivity by 0.1 percent and that in the U.S., broadband expansion of 2.5 lines per 100 people adds 0.25 percent per year GDP growth.

The final panel of the day focused on emerging market structure, which talked about how ubiquity may not be the final solution – and that applications are really what will drive adoption.

In a presentation by Dr. Raul Katz from Columbia, the impact of broadband on jobs, discounting the initial construction jobs, was considered. Katz found that while some jobs will be lost due to labor moving from areas of no service to those with service in the long run employment increases overall as new business learn how to adopt broadband into day to day practices.

Jonathan Lienbenau from the London School of Economics explored the indirect effects of broadband on energy and transportation. The largest effect that these networks will have is improving the overall business environment not in the direct creation of jobs in the deployment of the network.

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