A new USTelecom analysis of the latest Internet Protocol (IP) traffic data from Cisco and user data from the United Nations (UN) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) indicate that U.S. demand for bandwidth has risen dramatically in recent years and is expected to continue its rapid pace of growth in the coming years. Ongoing investment in broadband networks, including wireline networks, is critical to accommodating the expected growth and enabling the economic benefits of increased usage. The new data show that U.S. consumers and businesses remain among the world leaders in Internet usage. The data suggest that in the last two years the U.S. has closed much of the gap with the world leader, South Korea, and has expanded its lead over other industrialized countries. Compared to global peers the U.S. is gaining ground, not falling behind, as proponents of more aggressive regulatory intervention claim.
As noted in previous USTelecom research many international broadband comparisons focus on more theoretical measures based on capacity and largely ignore actual usage of the Internet. As the Federal Communications Commission stated in its 2010 National Broadband Plan, “Many international broadband plans emphasize speeds and networks, focusing only on technical capacity as a measure of a successful broadband system. Our plan must go beyond that. While striving for ubiquitous and fast networks, we must also strive to use those networks more efficiently and effectively than any other country. We should lead the world where it counts—in the use of the Internet and in the development of new applications that provide the tools that each person needs to make the most of his or her own life.” [NBP Page 4, emphasis added.] USTelecom agrees and believes that the amount of data users are actually consuming to pull value from their broadband connections provides a more practical gauge of how successfully a country’s broadband networks are providing residential and business consumers with what they want.