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High-Quality Broadband Essential to Growth of the World’s Knowledge Economies
New Study Evaluates Nations´ Readiness to Support Next-Generation Video and Web Services AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, Sept 12, 2008 – The results of a new study into the quality of broadband connections experienced by consumers in 42 countries were released today to highlight each nation’s current ability to benefit from next-generation web applications and services. The study, focusing on countries in Europe, North America, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICs), was conducted by a team of MBA students from the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and the University of Oviedo’s Department of Applied Economics, and sponsored by Cisco. Sweden and The Netherlands had the best performing broadband connections in Europe, a result of increasing investments in fiber and cable network upgrades, coupled with competition diversity, and supported by strong government vision and policy. Over half of the 42 countries studied enjoyed broadband connections at the level of performance required to deliver a consistent quality experience for most common web applications today, but some major countries such as the UK, Spain and Italy on average fell just below this threshold. Japan, a nation that made an early commitment to investing in broadband as a source of competitive advantage, had by far the highest Broadband Quality score of the 42 countries studied and was the only country currently prepared to deliver the quality required for next-generation web applications over the next 3 to 5 years. “The Broadband Quality study was developed on the premise that the new generation of web applications will rely on a higher level of performance of broadband connections,” explained Alastair Nicholson from Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. “Average download speeds are adequate for web browsing, email and basic video downloading and streaming, but we are seeing more interactive applications, more user-generated content being uploaded and shared, and an increasing amount of high-quality video services becoming available. Moreover, because the study also found significant correlation between a nation’s broadband quality and its advancement as a knowledge economy 1 , policy makers may need to consider how to create an environment to improve key broadband performance parameters in the future.”

Based on the World Bank’s Knowledge Economy Index which measures how each country uses knowledge efficiently to develop its economy

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“The broadband gap can no longer be seen as a penetration divide,” Professor María Rosalía Vicente from University of Oviedo pointed out. “It is also a quality and capacity divide, and therefore, a divide in the range of services people can access and use.” Using nearly eight million records from actual broadband speed tests conducted by users around the world during the month of May through www.speedtest.net, the research team calculated statistical averages for each country of several key performance parameters used to determine the quality of a broadband connection. The team concluded that broadband experience is mainly affected by broadband speeds in both directions, latency, network oversubscription, and packet loss. These parameters were grouped into three major categories: download and upload throughput, and latency. The Broadband Quality Score (BQS) for each country was determined using a formula that weighted each category according to the quality requirements of a set of popular applications now and in the future. Typical applications for today include web browsing, social networking, music downloads, basic video streaming and video chatting, standard definition IPTV, and enterprise-class home offices. Future applications include consumer telepresence for communications, healthcare and education, high-quality video file sharing and streaming, high-definition IPTV, cinema-quality live event broadcasts and advanced home automation. “By using actual broadband-quality test results, the research team has given us a fresh insight into what users around the world are really experiencing and whether they can look forward to enjoying new applications,” said Fernando Gil de Bernabé, managing director at Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group. “A nation’s leadership in broadband was typically determined by its ranking on penetration, and now we know that this will not be enough. This study gives broadband stakeholders, from governments through to telecom and cable operators and vendors like Cisco, as well as consumers, a better understanding of the importance of quality broadband connections. Without high-quality broadband, we will not be able to take full advantage of the next wave of productivity, collaboration and entertainment that can be gained from the web.”

Fig. 1: Summary of Broadband Quality scores by country.

Notes to Editors: About the Said Business School, University of Oxford Established in 1996 the Saïd Business School is one of Europe’s youngest and most entrepreneurial business schools with a reputation for innovative business education. An integral part of Oxford University, the School embodies the academic rigour and forward thinking that has made Oxford a world leader in education. The School has an established reputation for research in a wide range of areas, including finance and accounting, organisational analysis, international management, strategy and operations management. The school is dedicated to developing a new generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs and conducting research not only into the nature of business, but the connections between business and the wider world. In the Financial Times ranking of MBA programmes (Jan 08), Saïd is ranked 19th in the world. This achievement follows the School’s success in HM Treasury’s 2005 ranking of the top 50 MBA programmes in the world, where it finished number one out of all the UK business schools. In the university league table published by The Guardian (May 2008), Saïd ranked first of all UK universities for undergraduate business for the fifth successive year. The University of Oxford has ranked top for business studies in The Times annual report in six of the last seven years. For more information, see www.sbs.ox.ac.uk. The Research Team Saïd Business School, University of Oxford Prashanth Angani Taegyue Kim Utkarsh Guleri Yukihiro Misawa The research project was undertaken by four MBA students from Saïd Business School as part of the Strategic Consulting Project within the MBA programme. Working in teams, students undertake an eight-week consulting project for a corporate sponsor. University of Oviedo Prof María Rosalía Vicente

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