A Brave New Geography of the Internet Age? The Determinants of Telecommunications Growth in Historical Perspective by Richard Perkins & Eric Neumayer

Abstract: The Internet is often portrayed as a novel, uniquely disembedded technology, floating free of territory and traditional place-based constraints. In this paper, we contribute to a growing body of literature which challenges such imagery. To do so, we use quantitative techniques to examine the determinants of spatio-temporal variations in the Internet and older communication technologies, namely, mail, the electric telegraph and telephones. Our results reveal striking similarities in the country-bound factors – income, education and trade openness – influencing rates of uptake. We conclude that, contrary to claims of novelty, the Internet is unfolding unevenly across geographic space according to conventional territorial and relational attributes.

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