U.S. Continues to Tread Water in Global Broadband Adoption
ITIF Policy Brief Analyzes New OECD Broadband Numbers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to new statistics from the OECD, the United States remains in the middle of the pack among OECD nations in broadband telecommunications adoption. In their semi-annual survey of broadband subscribership, the OECD found that from June 2005 to December 2005, broadband subscribership in the U.S. increased 2.3 percentage points, from 14.4 percent of the population to 16.8 percent, about the same rate of growth as the OECD overall. When OECD first collected this data in 2000, the United States ranked 4th among the 30 nations surveyed, behind Korea, Sweden and Canada. Now we are 12th, with our rank unchanged from December 2004.
The ITIF policy brief analyses U.S. broadband performance compared to other nations. The report argues that America’s continued mediocre showing in broadband rankings do matter. Nations that move to the front in terms of broadband adoption are more likely to reap a host of economic and social benefits, not the least of which is increased economic competitiveness. The brief goes on to argue that the traditional excuses for poor U.S. performance, particularly the argument that leading nations have higher population densities, no longer holds. Many leading nations, such as Iceland, have national and metropolitan population densities below the United States.
Finally, the brief offers three straightforward recommendations for boosting U.S. broadband deployment and adoption. First, broadband should be exempt from local, state and federal taxes, including universal service taxes, for at least five years. Second, telecommunications companies seeking to roll out new broadband data/video networks should be subject to a significantly reduced number of franchise agreements. Moreover, companies rolling out these new offerings should not have “build-out” requirements placed on them. Finally, Congress should seriously consider boosting tax incentives for the deployment of new broadband networks, including allowing telecom companies to expense new broadband investments in the first year.