International roots of National Broadband Plan, a report by GAO

I’m reading the recent GAO (Government Accountability Office) Report, National Broadband Plan Reflects the Experiences of Leading Countries, but Implementation Will Be Challenging, while we’re on the road to Chicago. (I’m not driving!) Remember the yea/boo car game? We’re driving by a Dairy Queen – Yea! But we’re not going to stop – Boo! Well I feel like this report is a grown up version of the yea/boo game.

The GAO sets out to look at three questions:

What is the status of broadband deployment and adoption in developed countries? (And here are the yeas and boos.)

  • Yea – 27 of 30 OECD countries has broadband deployed to 90 percent of the country – regardless of population density.
  • Boo – Their definition of broadband seems to vary depending on a country’s local definition. They also seem to be using FCC”s old definition of broadband (768 kbps down).
  • Yea – The average speeds range from 1.352 Mbps in Mexico to 11.717 Mbps in South Korea; the majority of countries have average broadband speeds of 3 Mbps to 8 Mbps.
  • Boo – The US comes in at 3.808 Mbps.
  • Yea – 21 of the 100 top cities Akamai evaluated are in the US
  • Boo – 17 OECD countries have broadband adoption rates that exceed the average of 23.3 subscriber lines per 100 inhabitants, including the US, at 26.4 subscriber lines.
  • Yea – US has more subscribers than any other OECD country—81 million, or more than twice as many as Japan, which has 31 million, the second highest number of subscribers.
  • Boo – 1/3 of US non-adopters identified cost as the main factor affecting their decision not to subscribe to broadband service.
  • Yea – US cost per Mbps is lower than OECD average
  • Boo – US cost for higher tiered broadband service is almost double the OECD average

One point of interest… the report found that income is a factor that drives broadband adoption across the OECD countries – yet the US ranks 15th in adoption and ranks 8th in gross national income. So what have the guys who have better adoption rates done? That feeds into GAO’s second question.

What actions have selected countries taken to increase broadband deployment and adoption?

The report looks at 7 countries and their approach to broadband: Canada, France, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. So what did they find?

  • All Seven Selected Countries Have Instituted Broadband Plans, and Leaders Have Emphasized Broadband Initiatives
  • In All Seven Countries, National or Regional Governments Have Provided Funds for Public/Private Partnerships to Deploy Broadband Infrastructure
  • Localities Have Also Used Public/Private Partnerships to Deploy Fiber to Gain Greater Broadband Speed (but folks had mixed view on public funding to private companies)
  • Government Officials Say Actions to Increase Competition in Broadband Markets Have Helped to Increase Broadband Adoption by Increasing Consumer Choice and Reducing Prices
  • All Seven Countries Have Expanded Online Services to Increase the Usefulness of Broadband
  • To Increase Broadband Usage among Targeted Populations, Governments in Several Countries Have Provided Digital Training or Offered Subsidies or Both

So cleverly enough this outlines piques the final question…

How do recommendations outlined in the National Broadband Plan reflect the actions of selected countries to increase broadband deployment and adoption?

They had a great table that I grabbed that I thought did a nice job answering this question…

This entry was posted in Policy, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

1 thought on “International roots of National Broadband Plan, a report by GAO

  1. Pingback: Have plan, will deploy in Australia « Blandin on Broadband

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