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Broadband Penetration Isn't Correlated to Economic Growth, and Other Mysteries

Broadband Penetration Isn't Correlated to Economic Growth, and Other Mysteries

Photograph by Arman Zhenikeyev/Corbis

The UN’s Broadband Commission recently issued a report ranking every country on various Internet usage statistics, including mobile broadband penetration, throughout each country’s population.

Looking at a series of relationship charts, we find there is no one obvious factor predicting mobile broadband penetration in these major countries.

We’ll look at four different factors in relationship to mobile broadband penetration:

  1. Fixed-line broadband penetration
  2. 20-year annualized GDP growth
  3. Population
  4. Population Density

Surprisingly, in none of these cases do we see a significant correlation.

There is only a slight relationship between the levels of mobile and fixed-line broadband penetration. Here are the top 50 countries ranked by mobile broadband.

Focusing on the top 20 leaders in the mobile group, we see there is actually a negative relationship between GDP growth and broadband penetration. It’s not even fair to say that the fastest-growing economies are the fastest growers in broadband.

Population doesn’t affect penetration levels one way or the other. Neither small nor large countries have shown a specific advantage in growing mobile broadband use.

Finally, population density makes no difference either: Broadband levels in the most connected countries haven’t been related to sparseness or density.

Chemi is head of research for Businessweek and Bloomberg TV.

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