A study published last Friday by The Media Institute ranks the U.S. among the top five nations in which broadband capabilities are underscored by access to a “wide open” Internet.

Titled, Net Vitality: Identifying the Top-Tier Global Broadband Internet Ecosystem Leaders, the study caps five years of research and is described in a Media Institute press release as “the first holistic analysis of the global broadband Internet ecosystem.” Based on 52 criteria that encompass applications, devices, networks and macroeconomic factors, the study identifies the U.S., South Korea, Japan, France and the United Kingdom in no particular order as the top five global leaders in the deployment and usage of broadband Internet networks. In addition to ranking countries quantitatively through assessment of broadband speeds, the Net Vitality Index developed through the report also measures countries “qualitatively to determine how well they are performing in a global competitive environment, gauging the true vitality of a country’s Internet ecosystem.”

Observing that the broadband ecosystems of the top tier nations share “a powerful common driving force--innovation,” the study asserts that these countries “have benefited the most when government challenges companies to raise their aspirations and increase the pace of innovation and the scale of investments.” As it stresses that “government has a critical role to play in shaping the goals of Net Vitality through forward-looking policymaking,” the study cautions that “policies focused on one specific element or outcome may . . . miss the mark because they do not focus on impacts to the broader ecosystem.” While noting that much of the advocacy behind the FCC’s recent decision to adopt a Title II approach to the Open Internet was “based on an assumption that new rules are needed to help the U.S. boost its lagging performance in comparison with other countries,” the study nevertheless maintains that “the U.S. leadership position in broadband is strong, impressive and durable.”