Sunday, September 14, 2008
Japan Tops Broadband Survey
[An article from 9/14/08 Japan Times]
AMSTERDAM (AP) "Quality" may be hard to define, but Japanese broadband Internet connections have it, according to a survey released Friday.
No matter how researchers from Oxford University's Said Business School tweaked their definitions, Japan came out best by far.
Sweden was next, followed by the Netherlands, Latvia and South Korea, with the United States ranked 16th and Britain 24th out of 42 countries covered. India was last place. [Emphasis added.]
The study was geared toward finding what broadband consumers experience "in the wild" as opposed to what companies advertise. It used data from 8 million tests done in May by Speedtest.net, the largest of many free connection-testing services on the web.
After debating with a group of experts about how consumers use the net today and how they would define "quality," the authors gave a heavy weighting toward download speed, but also considered upload speeds and "latency," a rough measure of response time.
"It's a first stab at coming up with country broadband quality scores," said professor Alastair Nicholson, who oversaw the students carrying out the study. He was presenting the findings at the start of the International Broadcasting Conference.
Now I am a little suspicious of Japan's tendency to self promotion, but here is some data from the the Japanese regulator's (MIC) website:
Japan Trends in No. of Internet Users and Diffusion Rate (relative to population) (Individuals)
Types of Internet Connection Using a Home PC (Households) (Multiple choices allowed)
However, the potential broadband contribution to the Japanese economy can not be measured by just broadband availability. Japan, like some other economies, overregulates many economic sectors so they can not take advantage of new opportunities created by broadband. Thus, why was Amazon started in USA, not Japan? Because until recently all books, magazines and records in Japan had to sold at list price. Analogous regulations inhibit new business models in other sectors now in Japan A professor I was freindly with in Japan described the country of consisting of two independent economies that coexist side-by-side: The "100 yen economy" and the "200 yen economy".
The 100 yen economy consists of the well know companies such as Sony and Toyota that could be competitive in productivity at exchange rates of 100 yen/$. However, the bulk of the Japanese economy, 2/3 I recall, is purely domestic and would not be competitive with other countries unless the rate was 200 yen/$. The ongoing economic regulation in Japan is intended to protect the 200 yen economy from external competitors. It is a hopeless task and it results in they forgoing many of the potential jobs created by broadband. Some European countries, e.g. France, have similar problems with broadband and economic regulation. This is an area where the US clearly leads even though the broadband numbers are falling behind.