I can see Denny Strigl of Verizon go “I told you so – we are unfairly maligned”
Prof. Leonard Waverman at London Business School has come up with a “connectivity scorecard” which shows the US actually has the best telecom infrastructure in the world.
But the more I drilled into his analysis, the more confused I got.
The analysis distinguishes between “innovation driven” and “resource and efficiency driven" economies. I can accept that distinction but we buy speeds and feeds from telcos. The price and quality of service (which can be normalized across countries) should drive the majority of scoring in my opinion – but I nitpick.
The scorecard then breaks the infrastructure by consumer type – household, businesses and governments. Which is also understandable. Businesses use WAN, plenty of VoIP driven LAN traffic, bandwidth hungry telepresence specific connectivity and plenty of telecom circuits for RF and sensory networks that households do not. Governments have secure communications, satellite networks most businesses do not etc.
But how do you allocate weights between the 3 consumer groups - I mean much of that infrastructure is shared between them. Whether you access AT&T 3G on your personal PDA or via a dongle on your business laptop you are accessing common pipes. Same with Verizon DSL. Again, I am distracted.
Then it also scores the three categories by "usage and skill". And here countries like Korea, with superior wired and wireless broadband infrastructure, really drop off in scores.
“On the business side, spending on IT resources and the percentage of jobs requiring ICT user skills in Korea is behind other economies. Secure server penetration is low and only a small proportion of businesses sell or buy over the internet. Indications are that the Korean economy is dominated by a few larger, technologically sophisticated organizations, with the remaining businesses displaying low levels of ICT specialization.”
So let me object again - telecoms do not get paid based on business results. They get paid for speeds, feeds and related pricing. I am not sure why the analysis tallies country usage and skill.
But then the analysis gets really interesting. The weights vary by country also. Korea’s already low raw score for business usage and skill is really banged by the weight for the attribute in the total score – 58% for Korea versus only 11% for the US.
To which the report methodology says in masterful irony “The overall effect of the weighting system on the Scorecard is simply not that great.”
I could go on and on. I am sure the good professor has a noble goal of linking country telecom investments to economic activity.
I am just afraid our telcos will use it to say “We are really not that bad". As with most things they say, though, read the fine print in the study.