Different Paths to Broadband Access: The Impact of Governance and Policy on Broadband Diffusion in the Developed and Developing Worlds
Type of work: Communication
Categories:e-Readiness | Information Society | Policy & Regulation
A new digital divide is emerging both within and between nations that is due to inequalities in broadband Internet access. Our research examines the broadband digital divide by analyzing the impact of administrative culture and policy initiatives in the form of strategic planning, execution, regulation and investment on broadband diffusion in 139 countries. Our multiple regression analysis shows that factors that determine broadband diffusion in technologically developed countries do not necessarily have the same impact in less developed countries. For example, competition in the telecommunications sector has a positive impact in nations where access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) is expanding, but does not make a significant difference where ICT access is widely available. We also show that when controlling for measures of economic, political, social and educational development, there is greater broadband diffusion in countries that have an administrative culture of sound governance and make a higher shared financial investment in information and communication technologies. These results hold in nations where access to ICTs is expanding, even though the presence of a national telecommunications regulatory authority has a negative impact on broadband diffusion in the same group of countries. Our results suggest that the path to widespread availability and use of broadband requires different strategies depending on a nation’s level of technological development. Furthermore, assessing overall government performance in terms of governance and policy initiatives on this journey is more important than factors such as the presence or absence of a national regulatory authority.