On October 12, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released its report on the state of broadband in developed countries.  According to the report, the GAO was asked to address:

  1. The status of broadband deployment and adoption in developed countries,
  2. Actions selected countries have taken to increase deployment and adoption, and
  3. How recommendations in the National Broadband Plan align with the selected countries' actions.

The GAO analyzed information from 30 developed countries, with a focus on 7 countries and their broadband policies. The report found that deployment in the U.S. is actually comparable to deployment in developed countries - the vast majority of countries studied had over 90 percent broadband deployment.  Adoption rates, however, were found to vary considerably among countries based on various factors such as cost, computer literacy, and population.

The report found that the 7 focus countries, including Canada, Japan, and the UK, have all taken certain actions to help increase broadband deployment and adoption, including:

  1. Instituting plans and policies,
  2. Providing funds through public/private partnerships,
  3. Increasing competition,
  4. Expanding online services, and
  5. Providing digital literacy training, consumer subsidies, or both.

In particular, the report found that increasing competition has led to increased broadband adoption in these countries due to more consumer choice and competitive prices, and that lowering deployment and consumer costs through universal service funds and consumer subsidies can facilitate adoption.

The full report is available from the GAO's website here.