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Here, our multidimensional benchmarking approach offers substantial new insights. Canada, for example, is often thought of as a very high performer, based on
the most commonly used benchmark of penetration per 100 inhabitants. Because our analysis includes important measures on which Canada has had weaker outcomes—prices, speeds, and 3G mobile broadband penetration—in our analysis it shows up as quite a weak performer, overall.
The highest prices for the lowest speeds are overwhelmingly offered by firms in the United States and Canada, all of which inhabit markets structured around “inter-modal” competition—that is, competition between one incumbent owning a telephone system, and one incumbent owning a cable system. The lowest prices and highest speeds are almost all offered by firms in markets where, in addition to an incumbent telephone company and a cable company, there are also competitors who entered the market, and built their presence, through use of open access facilities.
For example, Italy is only 22nd out of 30 in fixed broadband penetration per 100 but, as we shall see, is fifth in mobile broadband penetration. Canada is a second quintile performer in penetration (down from having penetration levels second only to South Korea's in 2003), but only a fourth quintile performer on speeds and prices. Keeping an eye out for these kinds of discrepancies allows us to identify false “successes” and false “failures,” or be more precise about what aspects of a country's performance are worth learning for adoption,
and which are worth learning for avoidance.
Among the higher performers in general broadband penetration, some indeed do have relatively low broadband penetration for small businesses: Canada (93.7%), the UK (92.1%), and Sweden (94.1%). The rest of the countries that have high penetration per 100 inhabitants also have penetration rates above 95% even in these smaller businesses.