Switzerland places #5 on the NRI. The country features in the top 10 of six pillars, and comes in at 4th place in the skills pillar. Switzerland boasts very high usage rates and is boosted by a high degree of readiness and a propitious environment. It ranks 6th on the individual usage pillar, owing to very high penetration rates of mobile telephony, computers, Internet, and broadband Internet. Furthermore, it places 2nd behind Sweden in the business usage pillar. ICT has a very significant impact on the economy (3rd), leading to new services, products, and business models and fostering innovation. Its impact on society however, seems to be less marked (25th), as is the modest engagement of its government in promoting and using ICT (35th). The country’s performance is also affected by the costliness of ICT (48th) even when adjusting for purchasing power differentials.
#6 The Netherlands delivers a strong performance. The country earns excellent marks in terms of ICT usage (9th). In particular, the Netherlands boasts the world’s highest broadband Internet penetration rate with 40 subscriptions per 100 people, the second-highest percentage of computer ownership (92 percent of households), and third-highest percentage of individuals using the Internet (90.1 percent). The country’s best rank is achieved in the economic impacts pillar (4th) thanks to the high share of knowledge-intensive jobs in the economy, the third highest in the world—and the country’s knack for innovation with the fifth-highest ratio of ICT-related patent applications per capita. The affordability pillar represents the only real weakness in its assessment (47th).
Germany, at #16 achieves fairly good economic impacts (13th) thanks to a high level of ICT-related innovations and a robust innovation system led by the business community (6th). The country’s well-developed ICT infrastructure (14th) and its high-quality educational system (17th) provides the vast majority of the population with the required skills to effectively use ICT (20th), resulting in high levels of ICT usage by individuals (14th). Further improvements could be achieved by rendering access to ICT, especially fixed broadband, more affordable (38th); also the government should put more emphasis on the importance of ICT for the future economic and social development of the country (47th). With a very similar profile, Austria arrives #19. Its very good ICT infrastructure development (12th), including access to digital content (4th) and that almost the entire population has the basic skills to utilize and access ICT (24th), result in very good penetration rates by individuals (17th) and the business community (11th). Moreover, the successful integration of ICT in a well-performing innovation system results in positive economic impacts (19th) in terms of innovation and focus on knowledge-intensive activities. On a less positive note, the high tax rate (115th) and the cumbersome procedures to open new businesses (97th) can hinder entrepreneurship and new ICT-based business opportunities.
#21 Luxembourg and #22 Belgium present slightly different pictures in terms of ICT development. Although both countries benefit from a fairly well-developed ICT infrastructure, Belgium benefits from a better-performing and more robust innovation and educational system allowing the country to obtain better economic impacts and higher innovation rates. On the other hand, Luxembourg has more affordable access to ICT and a more entrepreneurial-prone environment with lower taxes.
France #23, achieves a harmonious uptake of ICT by all agents in society, producing good economic results (15th) in terms of developing innovative products and services (6th) and granting a wide access to basic services (18th). Despite the high cost of mobile cellular rates (121st), ICT infrastructure is fairly well developed and the educational system has allowed the population to acquire a skill base to use ICT. In order to further boost entrepreneurship and innovation via the creation and development of new technology-based companies, the high corporate tax rate (127th) and the insufficient development of venture capital (36th) are areas that may require further attention.
ITC Investment in France As part of their investment in ICT convergence, governments can lead the development of advanced networks or create an open-access infrastructure to attract private investment. By 2008, 65 percent of households in France had broadband service, and multiple service providers had benefited from the unbundling of the incumbent France Telecom network. Now national and local governments are investing in the rollout of open-access fiber networks that private service providers will pay to use. Included in this plan are opening sewers and conduits to allow competitive service providers to lay their fiber optic cables within already-existing networks. According to one estimate, this will reduce costs of network deployment by up to 60 percent.