Before you get all defensive and “The U.S. is a big nation, facing unique hurdles to national broadband” on me, the WEF’s index is actually measured against a large list of different criteria, including such esoterica as availability of venture capital funding, and maths and science education. The complex scoring system is consistent year on year though, so the U.S.’s slip from third to fifth place is significant. Top this year is Sweden, followed by Singapore, Denmark and Switzerland. Finland, Canada, Denmark and Norway make up the rest of the top ten, with the U.K. sliding in at 13th place.
This news plays into all sorts of known issues in the U.S.–most particularly it’ll be useful ammunition to support the National Broadband Plan, and with which to challenge the slightly unbelievable chest-beatings of AT&T’s CEO recently. Adding to this is the fact that the nations that have actually progressed the most since the WEF began this survey back in 2002 are actually two surprising ones: China, and India. China, despite the numerous international concerns about the freedom of its Net systems, has leaped from 64th position to 37th, and India has moved from 54th to 43rd rank: This demonstrates incredible commitment by these (relatively) poorer nations to push their Net technology forwards, and highlights how little internal progress the U.S. has made.
The two most startling statistics: In terms of the percentage of citizens with broadband, the U.S. actually ranks 22nd out of 133 (either the President or possibly Google had better get shifting with plan to hook up the country!). But in terms of the percentage of people with cell phone subscriptions, the U.S. actually ranks 72nd, or in the bottom half of the table. Land of high-tech opportunities, eh, America?
[Via Wall Street Journal]