You are here

Nielsen: US leading in Mobile Internet Penetration -- More evidence the US is not falling behind

New facts from independent sources continue to undermine the political charge that the U.S. is falling behind in broadband, the thinly-veiled charge that Big Government proponents use to justify the need for a national broadband industrial policy to replace the current free-market national Internet policy.

  • A new report by Nielsen, the independent market research firm: "Critical Mass: The worldwide state of the mobile web"
    • Ranks the U.S. #1 out of the 16 countries they measure in mobile Internet usage penetration -- ahead of the UK, Germany, France and Italy and others. 
    • The report also concludes that penetration of 3G-broadband-capable handsets is greater in the U.S. than in the EU (28% vs 25% of consumers respectively.)

Why are these new independent findings important?

First, broadband mobility is as important to Americans as stationary broadband speed.

  • Proponents of a national broadband industrial policy myopically focus on the importance of broadband speed and ignore the importance of broadband mobility, so that they can claim broadband-duopoly market-failure and justify replacing current free market competition policy with a more regulator-driven, quasi-nationalization broadband policy. 
    • Consumer demand statistics prove that mobility is very important to American consumers and can't be ignored by policymakers.
      • American consumers have substantially more wireless connections in use than wireline and use substantially more wireless minutes than wireline minutes per FCC statistics.
      • Roughy 16% of Americans now have "cut the cord' and only use a wireless phone per industry estimates.
    • Nielsen's findings that Americans have more penetration of mobile Internet than other countries clearly fits what we know about American's strong demand for mobility. 
    • This also comports with the latest FCC broadband statistics which show that wireless broadband is the fastest growing segment of broadband use in America. 

Second, America is unlikely to fall behind in broadband mobility for several more reasons. 

  • The U.S. leads the world in facilities-based wireless broadband competition and investment -- with four well-capitalized national competitors: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile -- and a fifth on the way with Clearwire's world-leading WiMax national broadband wireless consortium of Sprint, Comcast, Time Warner, Intel and Google. 
  • The U.S. also has the most usage of wireless minutes in the world, over four times the use of Europeans, and the lowest wireless prices in the world save for Hong Kong.
  • Apple/AT&T's popular iPhone coupled with the 3G broadband upgrades throughout the industry are also accelerating the transition from telephony to mobile Internet to wireless broadband.
  • And the U.S. is leading the world by a few years in actually bringing super-fast 700MHz TV spectrum to market for wireless broadband use.   

Finally, the Nielsen study ranking the U.S. highly in mobile Internet penetration is yet another respected independent source that tacitly rebuts the interpretation of the OECD broadband statistics that the U.S is falling behind on broadband.

  • The 2008 World Competitiveness Yearbook came out in May and the U.S. is ranked #1 in world competitiveness again -- for the fourteenth year in a row.
  • In November 2007, the U.S. ranked #1 in the World Economic Forum's Global competitiveness Report for 2007-2008.
  • Last year, the Economist Intelligence Unit's latest Global Digital Rankings had the U.S. tied for second in the world.
  • Bottom line: Proponents of a national broadband industrial policy ignore the totality of evidence that the U.S. is not falling behind the world and losing its competitiveness.

    • On the contrary, it is America's strong national policy to support free market competition over government regulation that has enabled America to continue to lead the world now, while also attracting the necessary private investment in broadband facilities of all types, stationary, mobile, and others, critical to maintaining America's broadband Internet leadership long term.