The Networked Readiness Index (NRI) - an important metric in the World Economic
Forum’s Global Competitiveness Network Report - examines how prepared countries
are to use ICT effectively on three dimensions: the general business, regulatory
and infrastructure environment for ICT; the readiness of the three key
stakeholder groups in a society individuals, businesses and governments to use
and benefit from ICT; and the actual usage of the latest information and
communication technologies available. This defines its network readiness - the
propensity for countries to exploit the opportunities offered by information and
communications technology. Austria's consistent high rankings reflect the set of
factors that have propelled this economy to the top of the world
competitiveness. These factors include:
- Highly developed educational institutions which have fostered a strong culture of innovation
- Transparency in government which has contributed to the emergence of a friendly climate for new business ventures
- Strong predisposition to adopt the latest technologies, in government, the business community and civil society.
World Economic Forum rankings for 2010
Austria is one of the most very highly developed nations in Central Europe. With internet usage at 74.8% and broadband penetration at 40% - along with future service offerings of hosting services, unified communications, and video - Austria's plan exceeds the goals established by the European Commission's Digital Agenda of providing every citizen with 30mps broadband by 2020. With prices the lowest in Europe and a multitude of options for both business and consumer alike, price and availability for the population is in very advanced stages. Network speeds and quality is more concentrated in the central part of the country and less so in the mountainous west.
Recommendations for Network Access
Austria is one of the more developed nations in Central Europe with a reputation of promoting a high standard of living. Austria’s role and emergence, after joining the EU in 1995, has positioned the country well globally. Home of the United Nations, Austria’s integration and close political ties have sustained this small economy after the fall of communism in the neighboring countries. Government lead initiatives emphasizing technology is one of the many reasons why Austria has one of the highest internet penetration rates in the region. Today, the Internet is an essential part of everyday life for Austrians.
Network Access in Austria is well established and continues to be in the forefront for technology leaders. Austria’s plan for the future is to exceed the goals established by the European Commission’s Digital Agenda of providing every European citizen with 30Mbps broadband by 2020. With 40% of the infrastructure in place, Austria is well on their way in meeting this objective.
A recommendation for Austria is to continue to work and integrate within the region. Historically, Austria has been able to collaborate with other European countries. Developing standards and adopting common technologies have been their key successes. Continuing down the same path, Austria should have no problems in providing Network Access for all future generations.
Austrian policy during the 2000s was to insure a high level of ICT access and development to improve and enhance the overall educational system. Not only were these enhancements focused on school connectivity but also to promote the early adoption of technological acceptance by the students. Also several key programs mandated by the Ministry of Education were developed to improve training and understanding of technology for teachers and principals. Standardization of educational institutions’ access and facilities has strengthened various e-learning and communications programs. Austria is still making great strides in the ICT workforce to improve the gaps in education. By ongoing growth in training and network development ICT education has improved tremendously over the last decade.
for Networked Learning
Austria has made great strides in the last decade to enable a stronger level of ICT learning amongst both the youth and adult populations and tying these together through legislating educational opportunities. Taking on both a nationalistic approach for mandated improvement as well as joining in with the efforts of the EU, Austria has gone from an also ran to a important contributor. However, as showcased within the Networked Economy section, education is only half the overall puzzle to sustained ICT growth. Opportunities must be available for the educated masses to utilize these skills in something other than being an educated consumer. The educational community must continue to offer the type of high level skill education that will make Austrian citizens globally competitive and more resistant to outsourcing especially to Eastern Europe. In addition, continuing efforts must be made to improve the ICT education and availability of resources to the existing adult population as they have not benefited as much from the ICT movement of the 2000s and still have a learning curve to catch up globally.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Austria ranks 12th in worldwide telecommunication development. Some 300 users are joining the Internet per day in Austria. While still relatively low in computer literacy Austria is striving to provide the private sector with electronic access to databases and public information in order to increase the use of IT. 74% of persons aged 16 to 74 used the Internet on a daily basis, with increasing popularity in using e-Government services as well. While 85% of all households with Internet access used the World Wide Web via a desktop computer in 2005, the percentage decreased to 61% in 2010. In that same period of time, the usage of portable computers for Internet access changed from 27% in 2005 to 67% in 2010. From an ICT perspective more and more enterprises use high speed Internet connections for accessing the Internet. 82% of enterprises have already used broadband connections while connections via an analogue modem or via ISDN are only used in one out of three enterprises.
Recommendation for Networked Society
According to the framework provided by Harvard for evaluating Network Readiness, we can conclude that Austria is in level 4 (highest level) in the Network Society category. The challenge for Austria is not in the infrastructure are as it has made a lot of grounds in the past several years and made itself one of most sophisticated country in the world, they still have few yards to cover in the area of human resource management. While it has long successfully equipped the labor force with very good vocational skills, it now faces the major challenge of providing youth with the new, higher and more generic skills called for by technological change, international competition and aspirations for a more equitable distribution of human capital (OECD Economic Surveys: Austria). The computer literacy of Austria's population is still below average considering its infrastructure.
Even though at workplace more people are using computers, in education, however, there is still a lack of integration of computers and technology in the classroom. Teachers also have to be educated in the field so they are able to pass it on to the students. Only recently has the Ministry of Education made an effort to promote further education for teachers and to cooperate with the industry to gain further acceptance in the classroom. There needs to be more focus on the usage of information and communications technologies in (not exclusively higher) education.
The country also requires private funding. The experts often do not get any funds to do their research to come up with innovative products. In order to foster further IT development and to jump onto the train the leads the global information society into the next decade, Austria will have to improve in certain areas. The government has recognized that a main factor will be further education in information technology in order to overcome computer illiteracy. Austria has a good record in education but computer sciences and information management needs to be an integral part - not only in higher education. Lower tariffs is an urgent need to increase demand for IT services. Deregulation should help to a certain degree.
Austria’s economic practice advocates as little government interference as possible. This policy has enabled Austria to grow without the level of economic stimuli that other countries have required. Due to the eGovernment act of 2004 Austria has increased its ICT competitiveness by focusing on ICT education, industrialization, regional connectivity, and business growth. Jobs related to finance and banking, high tech, R&D, and commerce all have increased as a result. Ecommerce has expanded over the last 5 years and is working to require B2B a standard practice to improve its modest ranking amongst its EU counterparts. EGovernment has enabled ICT to reach the general public with services and resources. They are above average in availability, service usage, and tying business to e-government services.
Recommendations for Networked
In comparison to other EU countries, Austria has made a significant amount of progress and has surpassed many larger countries when it comes to the level of its ICT economy due to a sustained government push to become competitive. While research has shown that Austria is more globally competitive due to its efforts over the last ten years to reach the current level of ICT readiness, I believe that much of that effort can be undone with an unchecked level of outsourcing to Eastern Europe. While protectionism is generally not found to be a useful in areas such as this, alternative strategies must be found to continue to promote the value of ICT learning within the Austrian networked economy. Lack of future opportunities will curtail both the economy and desire for youth to be involved in ICT education. Reduction in the VAT for in-country online sales, incentives for companies to keep high tech jobs within Austrian borders, and continue to work with the business community on ICT education will promote a better alignment of need and resources.
Austrian legislature has assigned specific duties in the field of competition regulation to the regulatory authorities for telecommunications. The main priority is to ensure reasonably priced, high-quality and innovative telecommunications services. This is achieved by lowering barriers to market entry for new providers, carrying out market analyses, ensuring open network access, and acting as a conciliation body in disputes between market participants. Regulatory bodies have been created to ensure competition is fare and no monopolies exist.
Recommendation for Network Policy
Austria, a solid stage 4 in network policy, has taken great strides to ensure free market competition. Austria has been monitoring and regulating the telecommunications industry to guard against monopoly in order to foster fierce competition, growth, and innovation. Continuing this directive as the growth expands throughout the country should be a primary concern.
Austria's strong performance reflects exceptional levels of networked readiness as well as overall competitiveness. Austria has a very strong focus on education, which has enabled the establishment and development of highly efficient educational institutions and a culture of innovation; transparent and well-functioning public institutions which have resulted in a business-friendly environment; and a strong readiness by key national stakeholders to adopt the latest technologies.