AsianScientist (Sep. 16, 2011) – New figures released today by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency under the United Nations, rank the Republic of Korea as the world’s most advanced ICT economy, followed by Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, and Finland.
The new data, released in ITU’s flagship annual report Measuring the Information Society 2011, show that information and communication technology uptake continues to accelerate worldwide, spurred by a steady fall in the price of telephone and broadband Internet services.
A key feature of the report is the ICT Development Index (IDI), which ranks 152 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, and compares 2008 and 2010 scores.
The top ten IDI 2010 economies are (in order of their ranks) the Republic of Korea, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong (China), Luxembourg, Switzerland, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
Most countries at the top of the ranking are from Europe and Asia Pacific, and they largely correspond to the world’s high-income economies, given the strong correlation between the level of ICT development and GDP.
This report also showed that while ICT and income levels are closely related, getting the right public policy mix can drive faster take-up and a number of countries. Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea all have higher IDI levels than their income level would predict, the report said.
With more than five billion subscriptions and global population coverage of over 90 percent, mobile cellular is now de facto ubiquitous. In developed countries, mobile cellular penetration has reached 100 percent average penetration at end 2010, compared with 70 percent in developing countries.
Mobile broadband (‘3G’) services are also spreading quickly; by end 2010, 154 economies worldwide had launched 3G networks.
Conversely, the ‘death of dial-up’ is expected to happen over the next few years, as dial-up subscriptions have been decreasing rapidly since 2007.
Globally, telecommunication and Internet services are becoming more affordable. According to the 2010 ICT Price Basket (IPB), which combines the average cost of fixed telephone, mobile cellular, and fixed broadband Internet services across 165 economies, the price of ICT services dropped by 18 percent globally between 2008 and 2010, while broadband Internet prices dropped by 50 percent between 2008 and 2010.
New “digital divide” between high-income and low-income countries
However, the report found huge differences in broadband speed, quality and network capacity between countries.
These differences may lead to a new “digital divide” between those with high-speed/capacity/quality access (high-income countries) and those with lower speed/capacity/quality access (low-income countries), said Mr. Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau.
The report found that the speed of internet services in developing countries may also be inadequate, and lower than the advertised speed.
Whereas the Internet is used by 70 percent of the population in developed countries, it is only used by 21 percent in the developing world. ITU research indicates that targeting students may be the most effective way to increase Internet use in developing countries, given that 46 percent of the population (representing more than 2.5 billion people) in developing countries is below the age of 25.
The executive summary of the report can be downloaded at: Measuring the Information Society 2011 (PDF, 2.58 MB).
Source: International Telecommunication Union.
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