The U.S. is among five countries that lead the world according to an Internet "vitality" index that combines some 52 different factors in an attempt to capture the Internet "ecosystem," an ecosystem best sustained by a "wide open" approach rather than simply an open one.
That is according to a new Media Institute study by Harvard faculty member and member of the Institute's Global Internet Freedom Advisory Council, Stuart Brotman,
According to the study, the top five countries according to their ranking over all those indices are the U.S., South Korea, Japan, the U.K and France.
For example, the U.S. is ranked number one in access to information, number four in 'net freedom, and number seven in "E-government leaders."
According to the index, the overall leaders' common characteristic is innovation combined with sustained investment, and all have benefited from a regulatory structure that "catalyzes and challenges" them.
Brotman argues that Internet "vitality" should be a driving force in policy decisions. He is fine with governments spurring industry to aspire to greater speeds and innovation, but not with focusing narrowly on a specific elements, hitting the tree, as it were but missing the forest of the broader ecosystem.
He suggests an example of that too narrow focus was the FCC's reclassification of ISPs under Title II common carrier regs.
"The FCC's early recognition that regulation of data services as common carrier offerings would inhibit flexibility in the development and deployment of these already-competitive services was a crucial component of growth in the United States. However, the FCC's recent reversal when it deemed Internet access a telecommunications service, regulating broadband under a Title II framework, endangers the continuation of this success," said Brotman, a sentiment the Media Institute also shares.