Tuesday, October 27, 2009

US ICT Dominance: How long can it really last?

Authors of the book, Transforming Global Information and Communication Markets: The Political Economy of Innovation, Peter Cowhey and Jonathon Aronson argue “the US is likely to be the single largest influence on the global policy agenda”. They argue that the US has the most consistent agenda setter for the global market, has a large lead in ICT stock, has the largest investment base for research and development, is the leader of software, will continue to be within the top three global markets across a full range of ICT markets, and is the leading producer of high value-added content. As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but think about how literally days before, while pumping gas, I was reading random trivia facts that were being displayed on a LCD screen. One of the facts, that came up was that Iceland is ranked the number one country that has the most households with broadband Internet access in the world. I later found out that the US is ranked eighteen. Cowhey and Aronson argue that US dominance of the ICT markets will stick around for a while yet, but if a country as small as Iceland is as connected into the global market, it makes me question whether or not there is more possibility for ICT market growth else where in the world? Globalization enables the existence of competition, so the thought is certainly not outrageous. My point is that this kind of growth could happen much faster than Cowhey and Arsonson propose.

Another issue of interest from the reading is net neutrality. Cowhey and Aronson give evidence to support net neutrality from the past ten years and regulatory bodies, like the FCC, to avoid the prioritization of information. The whole concept of net neutrality- not creating a multi-tiered internet for companies to profit- eliminates the space for yet another digital divide within civil society for those in developing countries to overcome. Thomas Friedman argues that we are in the age of democratization of information. But how democratic is it to control information that passes through the internet? There is not arguing that the internet is a technological discontinuity which has forever changed ICT markets. On a wide scale, maintaining a free and open internet in the public sphere is imperative to international communication, cooperation, and lessening the amount digital divides that exist domestically within the US and internationally.

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