Sustained Investment and Innovation Key Factors to Success of Top Five Internet Ecosystems

FOR RELEASE: April 24, 2015

Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 – The Media Institute today released an analysis by Harvard Law School faculty member and Media Institute Global Internet Freedom Advisory Council member Stuart N. Brotman that implements a new approach for assessing a country’s broadband Internet capabilities.  Net Vitality: Identifying the Top-Tier Global Broadband Internet Ecosystem Leaders identifies five countries leading in their deployment and use of broadband Internet.

The analysis examines ways to sustain long-term Internet vibrancy, both in the United States and around the world, and inform future government policies that impact the deployment and adoption of broadband technologies.  Unlike other comparative studies that rank countries quantitatively based on a simplistic assessment of broadband speeds, Brotman’s Index also measures countries qualitatively to determine how well they are performing in a global competitive environment, gauging the true vitality of a country’s Internet ecosystem.

Based on five years of research, the Net Vitality Index is the first holistic analysis of the global broadband Internet ecosystem, identifying the United States, South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, and France as the top-tier leaders. Unlike the one-dimensional rankings that serve as the basis of most broadband comparative studies, Brotman’s composite metric takes into account 52 factors developed independently to evaluate countries on an apples-to-apples basis. Overarching categories assessed encompass applications, devices, networks, and macroeconomic factors.

The paper notes that innovation and investment are the most important building blocks for government policymakers to take into account, and finds that the five Net Vitality Index leaders have a powerful common driving force- innovation.  Brotman concludes that when innovation is coupled with sustained investment, competition can thrive and the desired goal of promoting continuous Net Vitality can be achieved, without the need for overemphasized government involvement and overbearing regulatory intervention.

The paper contends that the top-tier Internet leaders all recognize that government has a critical role to play in shaping the goals of Net Vitality through forward-looking policymaking.

“These five countries have taken a variety of regulatory approaches, but all share one commonality: They have benefited the most when government challenges companies to raise their aspirations and increase the pace of innovation and the scale of their investments,” said Brotman.  “However, policies focused on one specific element or outcome may hit the target, but also miss the mark because they do not focus on impacts to the broader ecosystem.”

“For example, the FCC’s early recognition that regulation of data services as common carrier offerings would inhibit flexibility in the development and deployment of these already-competitive services was a crucial component of growth in the United States.  However, the FCC’s recent reversal when it deemed Internet access a telecommunications service, regulating broadband under a Title II framework, endangers the continuation of this success,” added Brotman.

To download the full report, click here.

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About The Media Institute

The Media Institute is a nonprofit research foundation working to advance sound communications policy, freedom of speech, excellence in journalism, and the protection of intellectual property.  The Institute’s Global Internet Freedom Program is an advocate for global free speech online, based on the belief that the Internet should be an open and interoperable platform, largely free from government intrusion, where information can be shared freely.  For more information, visit the Institute online at

About the Author

Stuart N. Brotman has extensive experience as a global executive, management consultant, international communications and media lawyer, university educator, and government policymaker.  He serves as a faculty member at Harvard Law School, and as a Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Governance Studies Program, Center for Technology Innovation, at The Brookings Institution.  He served two terms as an appointed member of the U.S. Department of State Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy (ACICIP), and serves on the Global Internet Freedom Advisory Council of The Media Institute.  He also served as special assistant to the president’s principal communications policy adviser and chief of staff at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).