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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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February 25, 2009 9:45 AM

Who Cares Where We're Ranked Internationally? Not Me!

Guess what? Turns out we're not 13th or 15th or 19th in the global broadband rankings, we're #1! Or at least so says the "Connectivity Scorecard".

But much like the OECD rankings, I find this all to be a bunch of hooey.

First off, you can tweak the rankings to produce just about any result depending on what data points you choose to include in your calculations. That's not to say the data that anyone's using is false, just that the analysis is getting in the way of the truth, which is simply that the US is lagging behind leading countries like South Korea when it comes to deploying next-generation broadband, but that we still have a lead on the rest of the world when it comes to the widespread utilization of broadband and related technologies.

To be honest, though, I find this whole exercise of trying to rank the US vs. other countries as irrelevant to the decisions facing our policymakers.

While of course there are lessons that can be learned from observing how we stack up relative to other countries, in my mind if we want to lead than we must pick our own path and not just try to follow others.

This isn't about catching up, this is about deciding what we want our digital future to be and then aggressively pursuing programs that can lead us to that end.

And for me, those goals are simple: we want to be the best we can be. We want as much bandwidth as possible; we want everyone online and educated on how to use networked technologies; and we want all facets of our society utilizing broadband to its fullest degree.

We want to enable the most robust digital economy, where all our content creators and creative class are empowered, where our service-based businesses are realizing new efficiencies and opening up new opportunities through the use of broadband, where what seemed like science fiction becomes a commonplace reality in how we communicate with others and access information.

While we can learn from other countries we need to be following our own path and setting our own standards because if we're saying that we want to be more like Japan or South Korea then we're always be behind as they're already far ahead of us.

That's why I wish we could just stop talking about how we compare to other nations and start exploring how far we've come relative to where we want to be.

And where I want us to be is simple:

- Fiber everywhere, DOCSIS 3.0 cable everywhere, and competitive wireless networks everywhere

- 100% of homes online and using broadband

- All users taking full advantage of all that broadband has to offer

- And rampant innovation occurring daily in developing new ways broadband can improve our lives

So while we should try to learn from the successes and failures of others, let us no longer attempt to gauge our success against other nations but instead compare where we are to where we want to be. Let's not settle for trying to be like other nations but instead set out ambitious goals for where we can be and then do everything we can to get us there.

We're Americans, damn it, and I can not accept that the best we can hope for is decades of playing catch up trying to follow the lead of more progressive nations.

It's high time we grab the reins and determine our own broadband destiny as I'm still a firm believer that there's more potential for greatness in this country than any other on Earth. The future of our country depends on us establishing our own broadband identity and not just following in the footsteps of others.

So let's stop fretting over how low we're ranked or how biased more friendly rankings are, and let's start determining our own future, striving to be the best that we can be.

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Comments (1)

Thanks for the post!

I am not sure I completely understand what your main point is. I understand that the ultimate goal is that everybody will be happily linked with broadband connections, will be technologically literate, and will be brave enough to innovate with technology. However, does that mean that we do not need to measure our progress towards this goal?

I have not read the complete report yet, but it seems to me that its aim is not whitewashing the US broadband position worldwide, but to assess progress towards a goal very similar to what you outline in your post here. Why wouldn't that be important? Even you say that you want the US to be the best. But best compared to what? How do you know that you are the best? After all, we are talking about a lengthily and complex process, which has to be assessed and monitored.

Am I missing something?

Thanks again!

Posted by Dima on February 25, 2009 11:57 AM

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