Lessons From the Net Vitality Index

What makes the five top-tier global broadband Internet ecosystem leaders — the United States, South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom and France — so outstanding?

My five-year study, Net Vitality: Identifying the Top-Tier Global Broadband Internet Ecosystem Leaders was recently released by The Media Institute. Here are some key leadership lessons highlighted in the report.

The broadband leaders of the Net Vitality Index (a composite of 52 indices covering applications, content, devices and networks, along with relevant macroeconomic factors) have a powerful common driving force — innovation. Innovation is the result of unusual effort.

“Once a company achieves competitive advantage through innovation, it can sustain it only through relentless improvement,” according to Harvard University professor Michael Porter. This powerful lesson of the centrality of innovation is directly applicable to the desired goal of promoting continuous net vitality.

The goals of national institutions and individual and corporate values also contribute to national competitive advantage. Each of the five Net Vitality Index countries that comprise the top tier attach significant prestige to their role in information and communication technologies generally, and to the Internet specifically. Consequently, they guide the flow of capital and human resources to enhance this positioning, which directly affects the competitive performance of companies that comprise the broadband Internet ecosystem.

Although it may be difficult to determine cause and effect, these have clearly made attaining international Internet success a priority. In doing so, the Internet sector also is more prestigious for those within the country seeking education, investment or employment.

The top-tier global broadband Internet ecosystem leaders’ strategies, viewed as a whole, also have included a range of government roles, such as:

• Developing a vision and strategy;

• Promoting digital literacy;

• Investing in infrastructure, aggregating demand and serving as an anchor tenant;

• Fostering facilities-based competition;

• Creating incentives for private investment;

• Offering electronic government activities, including health care, education, access to information and licensing;

• Promoting universal services through subsidies and grants; and

• Revising and reforming governmental safeguards to promote a high level of trust, security, privacy and consumer protection in ICT services.

Successful incubation appears to require government involvement, albeit with a light hand that stimulates and rewards investment, reduces regulatory underbrush and promotes global marketplace attractiveness. This is a success formula that the U.S. and peer country leaders should continue to emphasize.

Stuart N. Brotman is a faculty member at Harvard Law School and a nonresident senior fellow at The Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation. He also serves on The Media Institute’s Global Internet Freedom Advisory Council.

Stuart N. Brotman

Stuart N. Brotman is the former president and CEO of The Museum of Television and Radio in New York and Los Angeles (now the Paley Center for Media). He is the author of The First Amendment Lives On.