A Framework to Characterize the Global Diffusion of the Internet

Notes for presentation at INFO '97, Havana, October, 1997, Preliminary Draft.

Larry Press, lpress@isi.edu

This framework is the result of discussion with Grey Burkhart, Will Foster, Dee Goodman, Sy Goodman, Luis German Rodriguez, Peter Wolcott, and Jon Woodard. The four-level, ordinal dimensions were inspired by [14].

These are notes from an informal presentation, and I would appreciate feedback -- are there important factors that have been left out? Can you characterize your nation in terms of this framework? Are my classifications of Cuba accurate? (They are often based on rough impressions).

The outline of the framework is as follows:

  1. Internet Diffusion Dimensions
    1. Pervasiveness
    2. Geographic dispersion
    3. Sectorial dispersion
    4. Connectivity infrastructure
    5. Organizational infrastructure
    6. Sophistication of use.
  2. Internet Success Determinants
    1. Telecommunication infrastructure
    2. Personal computing and software
    3. Financial resources
    4. Human capital
    5. Sectorial demand and awareness
    6. Competitive environment
  3. Government Policies
    1. Markets and choice
    2. Investment policy
    3. National security
    4. Cultural concerns
    5. Social equity
  4. Multinational Issues
Within each section we will present the definition of the framework elements, sources of data, and an assessment of Cuba.

A Framework to Characterize the Global Diffusion of the Internet

While there is a wide body of popular and academic literature on the acquisition and diffusion of Internet technology in organizations and communities, e.g., [1, 4, 13], little research has been directed at the national and global levels (see [2] for one example). Organizations tracking global data (surveyed in [10]) generally concentrate on relatively narrow technical factors like the number of hosts in a nation.

These notes present a preliminary framework for characterizing the global diffusion of the Internet with the nation as the primary unit of analysis. The framework will consist of dimensions of Internet success, determinants of success, relevant government policies, and multinational issues.

As currently conceived, this model has six dimensions characterizing the state of the Internet in a nation: pervasiveness, geographic dispersion, sectorial dispersion, connectivity infrastructure, organizational infrastructure, and sophistication of use. Pervasiveness refers to Internet acceptance in the nation, as measured by such indicators as Internet hosts and users per capita. The geographic dispersion dimension ranges from nations in which all connectivity is within one city to those with major points of presence in all regions and in rural areas. Sectorial dispersion refers to the level of use in government, education, health care, business and the general public. Connectivity infrastructure refers to the capacity of domestic Internet backbones, international links, and local access capability. Organizational infrastructure refers to the openness and competitiveness of telecommunication and Internet service provider (ISP) markets, the extent of the ISP industry, and cooperative organizations and mechanisms within the industry. Sophistication of use runs from experimental use by members of the technical community to applications which give rise to new forms of organization, communication patterns, and technology.

These six dimensions are intended to represent the state of the Internet in a nation at a given time, but understanding and predicting the dynamic diffusion of the Internet requires focus on determinants of Internet success. Internet success depends telecommunication infrastructure, personal computing and software, financial resources, human capital, sectorial demand, and the competitive environment [5].

These success determinants are in turn partially determined by government policies regarding competition and choice, investment, national security, culture, and access and service equity. These are also included in our framework. Finally, important multinational factors, like as the growth of multinational telecommunication companies, must also be considered in understanding the global diffusion of the Internet.

The primary motivation for this work is to guide and aid policy makers. There is increasing consensus that the Internet and related telecommunication technology is strategic national infrastructure. While this is true for all nations, it is perhaps most important for less developed nations where the marginal impact of improved telecommunication is very high, leading to improved economic productivity, education, health, and quality of life, particularly in rural areas [7]. ( Figure 1 shows a graph of the relationship between Internet hosts per capita and the UNDP Human Development Index for nations). This framework will enable policy makers in a nation or in a multinational agency like the World Bank or United Nations to evaluate the state of the Internet in a country, identify constraints on its acceptance and application, and suggest government policy to improve the situation.

I will briefly discuss each of these diffusion framework components: Internet diffusion dimensions, success determinants, relevant government policies, and multinational factors. This outline is very preliminary, and I would appreciate feedback on the framework -- what is left out? Can you characterize your nation in terms of this framework?

I. Internet Diffusion Dimensions

Six dimensions are suggested, and each has four levels. The definitions of the levels are somewhat open ended. Our goal is not great precision, but expert consensus. We want to define levels so that a group of national experts can readily agree on the level of their nation for a variable. The following sections discuss the six dimensions, pervasiveness, geographic dispersion, sectorial dispersion, connectivity infrastructure, organizational infrastructure, and sophistication of use.

1. Pervasiveness

Pervasiveness refers to overall Internet acceptance in the nation, as measured by such indicators as Internet hosts and users per capita ( Figure 2 is a world map showing hosts per capita by nation). Users per capita would be the best pervasiveness indicator, but that statistic is not generally available in a consistent format. Hosts per capita, as measured by Network Wizards, and an adjusted version from MIDS, have been available for several years, so this can be used as a proxy. (Such statistics should be gathered on a regular basis by some inter-governmental organization).

The following is a tentative four-level scale for pervasiveness:

Experimental: users per capita is under 1/1,000 and most users are technicians working to establish the Internet.

Established: users per capita is over 1/1,000 and the user community has expanded beyond network technicians.

Common: the order of magnitude of users per capita is over 1/100 and the infrastructure and supporting services are well established, though not necessarily extensive.

Pervasive: the order of magnitude of users per capita is over 1/10 and Internet access is available as a commodity service.

The population of Cuba is approximately 11 million. While there may be in excess of 11,000 UUCP email users, only a few have IP access. The email user community extends beyond networking technicians, but IP users are still primarily networkers. Cuba is unusual in the pervasiveness of UUCP email. I would consider UUCP networking in Cuba to be at the early established level, but based on IP connectivity Cuba is still experimental.

Are there estimates of the numbers of hosts and users in Cuba?

2. Geographic Dispersion

A nation's Internet typically begins with one or a few people at a university, perhaps with the assistance of a multinational organization [2]. 1 This university is often in the capital city, and the concentration of power and resources in the capital city may slow diffusion throughout the nation. This is particularly likely to be the case in a developing nation with poor telecommunication infrastructure.

Nations in which Internet access is widely diffused have progressed beyond this early stage. One of the most striking trends of the 20th century has been people moving from rural to urban areas (see Table 1). This movement began in developed nations, but is now global. A widely diffused Internet (and other forms of communication) may tend to diminish this movement, making it possible to improve education, economic opportunity, awareness of the world, and life choices in rural areas.

A tentative scale for geographic dispersion is:

Single location: IP points of presence (POPs) are only found in one city, and there is only one international link.

Moderately dispersed: there are Internet POPs in at least half of the first-tier political subdivisions in the nation.

Highly dispersed: there are Internet POPs in at least three fourths of the first-tier political subdivisions in the nation, and international IP links from two or more cities.

Nationwide: there are Internet POPs in all of the first-tier political subdivisions in the nation, and rural access is commonly available (perhaps in public access centers).

If we consider UUCP connectivity, the Cuban Youth Computer Clubs, which are found in all but 6 municipalities qualify for nationwide dispersion; however, if we restrict ourselves to IP connectivity, Cuba falls into the single location category. While there is some IP connectivity outside of Havana, it is restricted to specific organizations like Infomed, and, even then, it is limited to only a few provinces and users.

3. Sectorial Dispersion

In most, though not all, cases, the Internet has begun in higher education. A fully mature Internet will be used by people in many of the following sectors and subsectors:

Public Sector

     central government
     first-tier political governments
     local governments
     publicly-owned companies
     the military

Academic Sector
     primary education
     secondary education 
     university education

Health Care Sector


Commercial Sector


Personal Sector

     middle class
     working class
One approach to this dimension is to rank usage in each subsector as rare (less than 10%), common (over 90%) or moderate (10-90%). Data on point of access (home, work or public access) would also be of interest in this dimension.

The data can be further reduced to produce a level of dispersion for each of the sectors. This would be done by constructing a function of the ranks (rare, moderate, or common) of all subsectors in the sector. The percent of connected institutions, like schools or hospitals, would also be of interest.

Internet dispersion in all Cuban subsectors is rare. There is no sector in which 10% of the organizations or people have IP access, and there may not be even if we consider UUCP email.

4. Connectivity Infrastructure

This dimension is an attempt to characterize the IP infrastructure within a nation. It is impractical to gather information on all infrastructure because there are many thousands of ISPs, and the Internet is too dynamic. We are striving for a level of detail which presents an interesting and evolving global picture without requiring more data than can be realistically collected and maintained. As such, we will focus on domestic backbone networks 2 and international links only, considering five factors: the domestic IP backbone, international IP links, IP exchange points, local access alternatives, and proximity to the technological frontier 3.

The domestic IP backbone is represented by total bandwidth of backbone links. The power of the international IP links is likewise measured by the sum of the bandwidth of all of them. IP exchanges may either be open network access points or bilateral exchange points between backbone providers. Local access alternatives are judged on the percent of users accessing the Internet with something faster than an analog modem (e. g., ISDN, ADSL, hybrid fiber cable or high-speed wireless). Proximity to the technological frontier refers to the extent to which advanced protocols, for example, IPV6, RSVP, or Multicast, are deployed on the domestic backbone and to the availability of guaranteed quality of service (QOS) at premium prices.

Four levels of Connectivity Infrastructure are:

Pre IP:  

     total domestic backbone bandwidth: < T3
     total international bandwidth: < T1
     Internet exchanges: none
     percent of high speed access: none
     proximity to frontier: majority of users are store-forward

Early IP:  

     total domestic backbone bandwidth: T3-OC4
     total international bandwidth: T1-T3
     Internet exchanges: one exchange point (NAP or bilateral)
     percent of high speed access: modems and leased lines only
     proximity to frontier: majority of users are IP

Pervasive IP:

     total domestic backbone bandwidth: OC4-100 gps
     total international bandwidth: T3-10 gps
     Internet exchanges: more than one 
     percent of high speed access: modems and leased lines only
     proximity to frontier: one advanced protocol on 90% of backbone routers


     total domestic backbone bandwidth: > 100 gps
     total international bandwidth: > 10 gps
     Internet exchanges: many -- both NAP and bilateral
     percent of high speed access: < 90% modem and leased lines > 64k
     proximity to frontier: two advanced protocols and variable QOS
Since there is only one international link of 64k bps and no domestic IP backbone, Cuba is at the pre IP level.

5. Organizational Infrastructure

Organizational infrastructure is a measure of the extent and maturity of ISPs and other Internet organizations and the Internet services market. Users have a wide range of choices in a nation with sophisticated organizational infrastructure, and in addition to competition, the Internet community has cooperative organizations and industry associations. The levels are as follow:

Single provider: there is a single ISP, which is owned or significantly controlled by the government.

Controlled: there are a limited number of ISPs because the market is controlled through high barriers to entry. All ISPs connect internationally through a monopoly telecommunications provider, and domestic telecommunication infrastructure is also a monopoly.

Competitive: there are many ISPs due to low barriers to entry, and international links are a monopoly, but there is competition in domestic telecommunications at either the local or long distance level.

Robust: there are many ISPs and competition for local, long distance and international telecommunications. There are collaborative organizations and arrangements like public exchanges, industry associations, emergency response teams, and Internet Society Chapters.

Cuba is at the single provider level since only CENIAI provides IP connectivity and only ETECSA provides international links.

6. Sophistication of use

In addition to knowing how widely used the Internet is, we may ask about the sophistication of that use. This may run from experimental use by networking technicians, through sophisticated use that changes organizations and communication patterns and causes new technology to be developed.

Minimal: there is a small, mostly technical user community that is beginning to use the Internet in conventional applications.

Conventional: in at least two sectors (public, academic, health, commercial, and personal), the user community commonly substitutes Internet communication for some previously used means (e. g., email replacing fax, telephone or postal mail). This is the first level at which we can say the Internet has "taken hold" in a nation.

Transforming: in at least one sector, there are significant changes in existing processes and practices with new patterns of communication and organizations. For example, the flattening of communication lines with customers dealing directly with manufacturers, medical information moving from physicians to nurses or patients, or consumers directly exchanging information on products and services. All sectors have reached the moderate (over 10%) level of application.

Innovating: In at least one sector, the user community is highly demanding, and is causing new technology to be invented and deployed to meet their demands. An example is the development and deployment of security protocols in support of business-business or business-consumer commerce.

Cuba remains at the minimal level; however, the health care sector may have reached the conventional level.

II. Internet Success Determinants

I will group success determinants into six categories: telecommunication infrastructure, personal computing and software, financial resources, human capital, sectorial demand and awareness, and competitive environment.  I will discuss them in general terms, without suggesting levels of measurement for specific variables at this time. For each category, I will mention its definition, possible sources of data, and Cuba's level.

1. Telecommunication infrastructure

In nearly all cases, the Internet utilizes the established telecommunication infrastructure in a nation. It is ironic that the marginal value of the Internet is highest in nations with poor telecommunication infrastructure, and that poor infrastructure impedes its diffusion.

Measures such as percent of digital switches and fiber miles, number of international circuits, and main lines per capita can be useful here. Such statistics are compiled by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

We can organize telecommunication infrastructure into three categories: local, domestic long-distance and international.

The Cuban Internet is constrained by poor local and domestic long-distance infrastructure, but international capacity is not a constraint.

2. Personal computing and software

Internet terminals are nearly always personal computers, and in many cases network resources such as routers and servers are also. As such, personal computers and their software are critical resources.

This factor includes the PC industry as well as the PCs themselves. PCs may be imported, assembled, or manufactured in a nation. The Internet will do better in a nation where the PC market is competitive and distribution and support channels are well developed.

Measures such as the numbers of PCs installed and the new sales rate are relevant here. The ITU and many market research firms estimate these statistics, but they may be proprietary and inconsistent measures may be used among nations. The number of retail PC outlets and capacity of manufacturing and assembly plants in a nation would also be of interest.

I heard one estimate of the number of PCs in Cuba as 30,000. There do not appear to be retail outlets, as all or nearly all PCs are owned by organizations. Several years ago, there was some low volume assembly, but I do not know whether that is the case today. The US embargo limits sources of supply for hardware, raising prices, and, since nearly all the relevant software is from the US, there are only underground channels for software distribution. A lack of PCs and poor distribution channels constrain the Cuban Internet.

3. Financial resources

Internet diffusion obviously requires investment, but fortunately, the cost scales well with usage. An experimental Internet in a nation just starting out can be achieved at very low cost, using mass market equipment such as PCs, low-cost time-sharing systems, and modems [5]. For this reason low-level support from organizations such as the OAS, UNDP, and IDRC have been quite meaningful.

As the network catches on, and more sophisticated resources are needed, they have historically been funded by revenue from rapidly growing demand (principally in the commercial sector) or private investment based on the assumption that market share is more valuable than profit in the early stages of Internet development. There is some evidence that that may no longer be the case in the most advanced nations. For example, the immense capital requirements to support gigabit backbones may cause consolidation of backbone ISPs in the U. S. Companies with ability to raise capital in financial markets and with large cash flow from other operations (for example telephone companies) may enjoy an advantage 4.

In all nations, there has also been some degree of government investment in technology or diffusion, but this is not as feasible in poorer nations, where the need is greatest.

It should be noted that external sources of capital also play an important role in the diffusion of the Internet in nearly all nations. This may take the form of startup assistance or private investment.

Financial resources may be indicated by standard macro-economic statistics, as collected by the World Bank and other organizations.

Availability of capital clearly constrains the growth of the Internet in Cuba.

4. Human capital

Internet success requires both skilled technicians and trained, demanding users.

The former are easier to find or educate, because far fewer are needed. In the earliest stages of network experimentation, where only a handful of technicians are needed at a few institutions, international workshops such as those of the Internet Society have been instrumental. The Internet Society and other organizations are now broadening their workshop offerings. As the Internet grows in a nation, university computer science programs and private training institutions must be scaled up to support the increased demand. This training can generally by funded from -growing revenue.

A large body of trained, demanding users is more difficult to achieve. For example, most office workers, professionals, and university students in the U. S. are now familiar with computers, word processing, email, etc. as are many others. However, this has taken 15-20 years during which relatively low cost computers and word processors have been widely available as well as a desire to integrate IT into school curricula at all levels.

The number and sizes of university networking programs and other Internet workshops and courses indicate the ability to train technicians. General indicators such as literacy rates and percentages of enrollees in various levels of schools, as measured by the UNDP and World Bank, are good indicators of the trained demanding users. The numbers of PCs per capita and percent of network-connected schools are also good indicators.

Cuba has many talented, motivated, and well educated technicians. The general educational level and existence of the Youth Computer Clubs indicate that Cuban users may be ready for the Internet when it is ready for them. One cannot help but admire the achievements of Cuba in this area, considering the obstacles which the networking community faces. This early focus on human capital is consistent with the general emphasis the government places on education.

5. Sectorial demand and awareness

As Porter [3] points out, there can be no growth without demand; however, demand may be at different levels in different sectors. If the earliest stages of Internet deployment in a nation are in the university, awareness, and hence demand, will be centered in the university community -- generally beginning with technical disciplines at first [11]. Public demand and awareness generally follows other sectors, but in nearly all cases, commercial demand rapidly overtakes other sectors and drives Internet deployment [9].

It is difficult to know how to measure this factor. While surveys could shed light on levels of demand and awareness in each sector, it is unlikely that they will be done in many nations. To some extent this determinant is dependent upon others -- trained, demanding users and the availability of PCs.

Informally, it is clear that demand exists for Internet services in the Cuban government and health care systems, and business people involved in international commerce would like to use email for messaging. The existence of an Agency for Information for Development will doubtless spur awareness and demand. Demand in the education system may have been spurred by the Youth Computer Clubs. Few people in the general public desire or are aware of Internet service.

6. Competitive environment

Competitive telecommunication and Internet service markets generally lead to multiple providers and therefore to lower prices and improved service. However, this is not a simple yes-no question.

There are multiple ISP and telecommunication markets. There are backbone ISPs and end-user ISPs, and the latter may specialize in either business or consumer accounts. There are also local, domestic long-distance and international telecommunication markets, and within a telecommunication market, some firms specialize in high speed circuits and others in switched connections to business and consumer users.

For example, in the U. S., most forms of domestic long distance telecommunication are competitive, but local service generally is not at this time. This can be very important to the Internet -- a 1996 OECD survey found that local call charges averaged 68% (peak hours) or 61% (off hours) of Internet access charges in member nations [15]. Furthermore, there are wide variances in local cost of nearly all services among different regions in the U. S.

There is competition among technologies as well as companies. For example, although Singapore currently has only one telephone company, analog service, ISDN, and ADSL will be available to nearly all residents and offices by the end of 1998. (A competing organization will offer hybrid fiber-cable access in the same time frame).

In view of the complication of multiple markets and interaction with regulation, perhaps the best indicator of market competitiveness is prices of selected services such as local calls, a user account, and a T1 line.

Cuba has only one telephone company and one ISP. While regulation holds analog telephone costs low and local calls are unmetered, access to new, digital telecommunication is expensive and requires hard currency. IP access is also paid for in hard currency and is expensive.

What are prices of various types of accounts and telecommunication links in Cuba?

III. Government Policies

This section considers government policy with respect to markets and choice, investment, national security, culture, and social equity have a significant effect on the success of the Internet. We discuss each of these areas along with sources of data and the Cuban situation.

1. Markets and Choice

Policy regarding trade and investment barriers, telecommunication and ISP regulation, and intellectual policy will affect the diffusion of the Internet.

Governments vary in their degree of openness to foreign investment and trade. The prices of equipment used in or complementary to the Internet will be low if trade barriers are low. Liberal foreign investment laws and regulations also make capital formation easier.

Cuba seeks foreign investment and trade, but the U. S. embargo, pressure on other nations, and uncertainty due the socialist economy and regulations to protect worker rights discourage investors.

Indicators here include indices like The World Economic Forum annual assesment of nation's global competitiveness and the Freedom House index of economic freedom. WTO participation is another indicator of economic openness, for instance in the their telecommunication and IT equipment agreements.

Telephone and ISP ownership and regulation are also determined by government policy. The markets can range from unrestricted markets with very low barriers to entry to government owned monopolies.

Cuba has privatized the telephone company, but it is 51% owned by the government, and there is one ISP. What is the management structure of the telephone company? To what extent is it controlled by investors and the Cuban government?

Intellectual property regulations also impact Internet diffusion. A domestic software industry and electronic commerce depend upon protection of intellectual property; however, in poorer nations, illegally copied software is often necessary for the establishment of the Internet. Corporate pricing policies which recognize the variety of economic conditions among nations may be a reasonable compromise in this area. See [12] for a discussion of this issue in developing nations.

Intellectual property protection may be difficult to achieve in Cuba because of the socialist viewpoints on property in general. Software is widely pirated today, but that is also caused by the US trade embargo.

One can note the status of intellectual property law in each nation. The Software Producer's Association may track this variable.

2. Investment Policy

A government may invest in Internet-related human resources, encourage the Internet via direct purchase, fund technology research and development, or seek foreign capital. The training of technicians is facilitated by investment in university computer science and communication programs. User training is facilitated by investment in general education.

Programs such as the Cuban Youth Computer Clubs and the Enlaces project in Chile will pay off in terms of trained, demanding users in the long run.

Indicators such as school budgets per capita and the number of students enrolled in computer science programs are useful in assessing investment in Internet-related human capital.

Governments also encourage technology through direct acquisition of goods and services. For example, promises by the Singapore government to use the Internet for doing its business and communicating with citizens has encouraged ISPs to make investments in ATM access. This strategy has been extremely important in the US computer and networking industries [8].

The Cuban government has invested in the establishment of CENIAI and its international link. Is Cuban government planning to use the Internet for operations?

Governments also sponsor research and development. The U. S. Government sponsored a good deal of the research and development which gave rise to the Internet, and is continuing to fund advanced development [8].

Governments may also seek foreign investment. For example, Singapore and Malaysia are offering tax incentives, subsidies, strong intellectual property laws, and major infrastructure investment in an effort to attract Internet-related business and investment.

The existence of a national telecommunication plan is one indicator of government interest in investment. Cuba is developing such a plan, and it will be ready in November.

3. National Security

National security concerns motivate governments to implement regulations controlling Internet access, encryption, and content.

Some nations regulate Internet access, requiring organizations and individuals to obtain permission for Internet accounts and connectivity. I believe this is the case in Cuba.

Many governments also hope to control encryption, making it possible for law enforcement agencies to obtain keys enabling them to read selected messages. These measures are controversial, for example, the U. S. and French governments favor them, but the European Community does not. Those who favor free encryption feel it is necessary for protection of privacy and for secure electronic commerce and business communication. Anonymous email servers, which are not allowed in Finland, are similar to encryption in that they are used to protect privacy, but can be used for antisocial ends.

Some governments also attempt to control content by banning the publishing or even viewing of politically critical information. There is considerable doubt of the feasibility of banning content and encryption regardless of government policy and laws.

In addition to passing laws and regulations against undesirable behavior, governments can sponsor efforts to monitor and fight attempts to break into or harm networks. For example, the U. S. and other nations fund CERTs.

The existence of access licenses, publication licenses, encryption laws, and content control laws can be noted for nations. I have heard both that Cuba requires Internet users be licensed and that it does not. Can a reader clarify this issue as well as Cuban policy on encryption and content control?

4. Cultural concerns

In addition to national security, some governments adopt policies oriented toward preserving aspects of the local culture. Some content control falls in this area as does the encouragement of local content and language. Countervailing commercialism also falls in this category.

Many nations are considering legislation to ban pornography or perceived religious blasphemy on the Internet. These are designed to maintain cultural values, but like bans on political content, they may be difficult to enforce. Such a law was recently struck down by the courts in the U. S., and in Singapore, ISPs are required to filter out Web sites which are banned by the government as a condition of their license.

Language is also an issue. For example, France has regulations mandating French language content. Other nations may encourage the use of local language by subsidizing efforts to publish in those languages on the Internet.

Does Cuba have laws or regulations in this area?

The most notable cultural shift on the Internet today is from the somewhat open, cooperative culture of the original research and academic community to commercialism [6]. As far as I know, no nation has taken any steps to mute this transformation, and most endorse it as it enables capital formation. Cuba may be in a position to develop a different Internet culture as the highly commercial phase has not yet begun and there is a socialist economy. (It is our hope that Cuba's atypical culture and economy will give rise to innovative Internet developments and applications).

The existence of content regulation and language laws can be noted for each nation. (Are there any in Cuba)?

5. Social equity

The gap between rich and poor nations exists on the Internet as elsewhere. Similar gaps exist within nations, and nations may try to adjust for these gaps.

For example, in the U. S., universal access requirements were imposed upon telephone companies in order to assure access in rural areas and for poor and handicapped people. Similar regulations could be enacted for Internet access.

Government sponsorship of public access locations such as the Cabinas Publicas in Peru, public libraries in the U. S., Youth Computer Clubs in Cuba, terminals in South African Post Offices, etc. is offered in the spirit of equity.

Certain classes of users may also be subsidized. For example, the U. S. has subsidized university, school, and library connections and Singapore provides a free Internet account and subsidized computer for any school teacher who wants one (and over 90% of the teachers have them).

I believe that all non-commercial access in Cuba is funded at government discretion, making such subsidies and decisions the rule.

Regulations designed to encourage certain classes of user can be noted in each nation.

IV. Multinational Issues

This framework has focused on the nation as the unit of analysis, but an understanding of the global diffusion of the Internet requires attention to multinational issues and organizations as well. This talk did not deal with such issues, but they include:

The role of multinational corporations -- cable and satellite providers, telecommunication companies, IP, connectivity and content providers.

The gap between have and have-not nations.

Organizations for the regional and global governance of the Internet.

Electronic and optronic technological improvements.

Non-Internet, regional or global networks such as those used in currency trading, banking, international EDI, and by large corporations. (These may move to the Internet when performance and security requirements are satisfied).

Which global issues are missing from this list?


1.  Cohill, A. M, and Kavanaugh, A. L., Community Networks, Artech House, Norwood, MA, 1997.

2.  Goodman, S., Press, L., Ruth, S., and Rutkowski, A., "The Global Diffusion of the Internet: Patterns and Problems," Communications of the ACM, Vol 37, No 8, pp 27-31, August, 1994.

3.  Porter, Michael E., "The Competitive Advantages of Nations," The Free Press, 1990, pp 71-72.

4.  Press, L., "Commercialization of the Internet," Communications of the ACM, November, 1994, Vol. 37, No. 11, pp 17-21.

5.  Press, L., "Developing Networks in Less Industrialized Nations," IEEE Computer, vol 28 No 6, June, 1995, pp 66-71.

6.  Press. L. "Two-Cultures The Internet and Interactive TV, in E. Mackaay, et al, eds., "The Electronic Superhighway," pg. 21-35, Kluwer Law International, The Netherlands, 1995.

7.  Press, L., "The Role of Computer Networks in Development," Communications of the ACM, Vol. 39, No. 2, pp 23-30, February, 1996.

8.  Press, Larry, "Seeding Networks: the Federal Role," Communications of the ACM, pp 11-18, Vol 39., No. 10, October, 1996, reprinted in OnTheInternet, Vol. 3, No. 1, January/February, 1997, pp 13-22.

9.  Press, Larry, "Will Commercial Networks Prevail in Developing Nations?," OnTheInternet, March/April, 1997, pp 40-41.

10. Press, Larry, "Tracking the Global Diffusion of the Internet," Communications of the ACM, Vol. 40, No. 11, November, 1997, -- 11-17.

11. Ruth, S. and Utreras, F., "Must Invisible Colleges be Invisible? An Approach to Examining Large Communities of Network Users," Internet Research, 3 1, Spring, 1993, pp 36-53.

12. Weisband, Suzanne P, and Goodman, Seymour E., "International Software Piracy," IEEE Computer, November, 1992, Pages 87-90.

13. Whinston, A. B., Stahl, D. O., and Choi, S. Y., The Economics of Electronic Commerce, MacMillan Computer Publishing, Indianapolis, 1997.

14. Wolcott, et al, The Information Technology Capability of Nations: A Framework for Analysis, MOSAIC Group Report (January, 1997), University of Arizona, CIS Department, Tucson, Arizona.

15. --, Communications Outlook 1997, Volume 1, page 116, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris. 


1.  There are exceptions to this pattern. For example, in Ghana and the Soviet Union the Internet began with commercial enterprises, and in Cuba there have been a variety of non-university pioneers, CENIAI, CIGB, InfoMed and Tinored.

2.  A backbone network must have publicly available POPs in two or more cities, and the bandwidth between them must be high relative to the other links in the nation. Customers must be ISPs as well as end user organizations.

3.  For a directory of national and regional Internet Exchange points, see http://www.isi.edu/div7/ra/NAPs/ and for samples of data on international links see http://som.csudh.edu/fac/lpress/devnat/nations/israel/links.htm.

4.  Capital requirements have also led to microprocessor manufacturing and design consolidation with Intel absorbing DEC's chip manufacturing capacity and partnering with HP on the next generation CPU chip.

                                       Est. annual
Region/                                    growth
Group                    1960     1992  1992-2000

High development          45%      69%       0.2%
Medium development        22%      35%       0.6%
Medium excluding China    27%      46%       0.4%
Low development           15%      26%       0.5%
Low excluding India       12%      26%       0.6%
All developing            22%      36%       0.5%
Least developed            9%      21%       0.7%
Sub-Saharan Africa        15%      30%       0.6%
Industrial                61%      73%       0.1%
World                     34%      44%       0.3%

Title:  Population in Urban Areas

Caption:  People are drawn to cities, and the UNDP estimates migration 
rates will be highest for least developed nations during 1992-2000.


Links to organizations mentioned in these notes:

Freedom House
The World Economic Forum
World Bank

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