ITU Releases Global ICT Pricing and Penetration Data

ITU’s latest report Measuring the Information Society 2011 (PDF) ranks the Republic of Korea as the world’s most advanced ICT economy, followed by Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Finland. Broadband rates on average dropped 50 per cent between 2008 and 2010, while huge differences in speeds and quality remain between countries.

ITU's ICT Development Index (IDI) ranks 152 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, and compares 2008 and 2010 scores. Most countries at the top of the ranking are from Europe and Asia Pacific. The United Arab Emirates and Russia rank first within their respective regions and Uruguay ranks highest in South America.

Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Vietnam and Russia were some of the most dynamic countries between 2008 and 2010, with all of them making substantial improvements in their IDI ranks.

All countries included in the IDI improved their scores this year, underlining the increasing pervasiveness of ICTs in today’s global information society.

The report shows that while ICT usage and income levels are closely related, getting the right public policy mix can drive faster take-up and a number of countries, including Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea have higher IDI levels than their income level would predict.

The spread of mobile networks in developing countries remains buoyant, with 20 per cent growth in mobile subscriptions over the past year and no signs of a slowdown.

In developed countries, on the other hand, mobile cellular penetration has reached saturation, with average penetration now over 100 per cent at end 2010, compared with 70 per cent in developing countries. With more than five billion subscriptions and global population coverage of over 90 per cent, mobile cellular is practically ubiquitous.

Mobile broadband (3G) services are also spreading quickly. By the end of 2010, over 150 economies worldwide had launched 3G networks. Wireless broadband Internet access remains the strongest growth sector in developing countries, with mobile broadband growing by 160 per cent between 2009 and 2010. Countries registering the highest gains in the IDI ‘ICT use’ sub-index are mostly those which have achieved a sizeable increase in mobile broadband subscriptions.

Globally, telecommunication and Internet services are becoming more affordable. According to the 2010 ICT Price Basket (IPB), which spans 165 economies and combines the average cost of fixed telephone, mobile cellular and fixed broadband Internet services, the price of ICT services dropped by 18 per cent globally between 2008 and 2010, with the biggest decrease in fixed broadband Internet services, where average prices have come down by more than 50 per cent.

All economies in the IPB top ten have high GNI per capita, and, with the exception of the United Arab Emirates, all are from Europe and Asia Pacific.

In developed countries, average prices for ICT services correspond to no more than 1.5 per cent of monthly per capita income, compared with 17 per cent in developing countries. But while broadband prices declined sharply worldwide, a high-speed Internet connection remains unaffordable in many low-income countries. For example, in Africa at end 2010, fixed broadband services cost on average the equivalent of 290 per cent of monthly income, down from 650 per cent in 2008.

In addition, the report notes that the actual speed experienced by both fixed and mobile broadband customers is often much lower than the advertised speed, and calls on ICT regulators to take steps to encourage operators to provide consumers with clearer information on coverage, speed and prices.

Download the report or read the full press release.

Source: ITU

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