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US among leaders in Internet consumption per capita -- Important new study

Kudos to Pat Brogan of US Telecom for his first-of-a-kind analysis/ranking of how much different countries actually use the Internet per capita.

  • It is outstanding work and adds a highly instructive and necessary new dimension to the discussion of the FCC's preparation of the National Broadband Plan and the debate over whether the U.S. is falling behind on broadband.  

The USTelecom summary description of the study's findings is below and can be found here. The letter communicating the study to the FCC is here.

"U.S. Among Top Nations in Volume of IP Traffic per User, New Analysis Shows

WASHINGTON, D.C.—While the debate rages on about the merits and limitations of various international broadband rankings that attempt to examine network performance and other factors, USTelecom today released fresh insights into an often-overlooked aspect of the national broadband debate—actual usage by Internet consumers. The analysis, based on data from Cisco’s Visual Networking Index and Internet World Stats, shows that the United States is among the top nations in the world in volume of Internet consumption per online user.

“This is a critical and missing perspective in the national broadband debate, so we are pleased to make this contribution,” said USTelecom President and CEO Walter B. McCormick, Jr. “This underscores the strength of our broadband networks at delivering value to Internet consumers. It shows that once U.S. consumers make that initial leap to the Internet, they are really among the best in the world at putting the Internet to use and making it something of real value in their daily lives—whether in education or health care, job searches or starting a small business, and that our broadband networks are delivering for Internet consumers.”

The analysis, conducted by USTelecom analyst Pat Brogan, takes country and regional Internet traffic data from Cisco’s Visual Networking Index for 2009 and divides it by the number of Internet users from Internet World Stats to get a rough measure of the amount of IP traffic per Internet user. This analysis of actual bandwidth consumed shows that the U.S. consumes more bandwidth per user at 14.25 GB per month than Western Europe at 13.35 GB per month and Japan at 9.90 GB per month. The U.S. is on par with France and uses more bandwidth per user than Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Only South Korea appears to consume a substantially larger amount of bandwidth per user at 24.5 GB per month.

“We believe that the amount that Internet users are actually using their broadband connections to pull value from the Internet—whether for education, government services or entertainment—is an important mark of how successfully a country’s broadband networks and regulatory environment are providing consumers with what they want,” the analysis observes.

Nearly 1,400 U.S. broadband providers invest approximately $60 billion annually to upgrade and expand the nation’s high-speed Internet infrastructure. The U.S. also is unique in the world for having two robust and competing wired broadband platforms with a national footprint, delivering a choice not only of service providers, but technologies, to more than 4 out of 5 U.S. households—before considering wireless and other emerging options.

“We believe that such analyses and rankings would paint a more accurate picture if they took into account these factors,” the analysis notes. The findings can be reviewed on the USTelecom website. They were filed today with the Federal Communications Commission as part of its ongoing proceeding aimed at developing a National Broadband Plan."