|By Roger Strukhoff||
|February 13, 2014 09:01 AM EST||
Our initial look at Georgia is a stunning one. Integrating all of our technology and socio-economic factors, but given its relatively very high bandwidth, and more important, what appears to be a tremendous percentage of access to its people, Georgia appears as if it will rank in our global Top 5. I'm captivated. I'll write more on the topic as our process plays out and we can announce something formally.
Content may always be king, but bandwidth is the Supreme Leader of the Internet. Bandwidth and access to it is the most heavily weighted of the numerous factors we integrate into our global rankings. Build better bandwidth, and the world will come knocking at your door.
I remain convinced that the lack of good connectivity was the precipitating factor for the dot-com crash in 2000-2002. Sure, there were business models that were out of control, and often made no sense. Sure, all the talk of a New Economy in the late 90s turned out to be balderdash. Sure, hubris took down so many inventors, investors, and $7 trillion worth of paper wealth.
The US government's Microsoft probe didn't help. I believe the market started to slide just after that was announced. (Not that Microsoft didn't deserve probing.)
But in the end, it was the crappy connectivity that did us in. Despite talk of billions of dollars of fiber being laid, the reality of the late 90s was that precious view people had bandwidth exceeding 56Kbs at home. I lay this blame squarely with monopolistic (technically, duopolistic) telcos who had no concern about customer service or the US economy. Meanwhile, corporate connectivity buyers hadn't yet come to grips with the idea of "always on" and "webtone." Mobile phones had no data connectivity, of course.
The Worldwide Wait was the reality. How many companies died on the vine as their customers and prospects impatiently watched..their..sites..load..so..so..slowly.
Today's world is a generation removed from those bad old days. Most of the developing world serves up an average of tens of megabits per second to its people, and most developing countries are at least delivering a few megabits per second. The wireless phenomenon has allowed a billion or so phones to glom on and download prolifically to their gleeful owners worldwide. The US still lags badly, of course; telco habits are impossible to change.
I say all this as we add Georgia as the 103rd country that we research. The fact that we're adding Georgia only now is my bad. I thought I had been rigorous in including potential leaders in all income tiers into our rankings. But I was asleep at the switch when Georgia came around.
Our interest in Georgia was prompted by a piece in the New York Times by the country's former President Mikheil Saakashvili. He writes of his country's recent economic progress and gleaming infrastructure, and compares it favorably to that of Russia, particularly Sochi, just down the road from Georgia.
Saakashvili takes the opportunity in his piece to hurl several insults at Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although we think Putin is responsible for Russia's lag in our rankings, I must also note that former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates described Saakashvili as "impetuous" and his actions as "stupid (and) provocative" in a nasty little war between Georgia and Russia in 2008.
However, we don't get involved in politics and press always for peaceful solutions to all problems. Carrying the burdens of a national head of government is something about which those of who've never done it really can't have a clue. John F. Kennedy once noted that those who've never sat in the oval office should be careful about criticizing its inhabitants, "even poor James Buchanan."
In any case, our rankings show which nations of the world are doing the most with what they have - in all income tiers, and in all regions. We believe there is as much hope for progress in the world's laggards as in the leaders. We welcome Georgia to our rankings.
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