ITU’s annual Measuring the Information Society Report, reports that the world is getting more and more connected and reveals that there are still huge investment opportunities for the private sector to connect the unconnected.
The Republic of Korea tops the rankings in 2016 for the second consecutive year. The top 10 countries also include two other economies in the Asia-Pacific region, and seven European countries. Three island countries in the Caribbean – St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, and Grenada – featured among the most dynamic countries with strong improvements in their IDI value and rank
MEASURING MOBILE ADOPTION
Mobile phone adoption has largely been monitored based on mobile-cellular subscription data since these are widely available and regularly collected and disseminated by regulators and operators. At the end of 2016, there are almost as many mobile-cellular subscriptions as people on earth and 95% of the global population lives in an area that is covered by a mobile-cellular signal. However, since many people have multiple subscriptions or devices, other metrics need to be produced to accurately assess mobile uptake, such as the number of mobile phone users or mobile phone owners.
INTERNET POTENTIAL UNDERUSED
An increasingly ubiquitous, open, fast and content-rich Internet has changed the way many people live, communicate, and do business, delivering great benefits for people, governments, organizations and the private sector. However, many people are still not using the Internet, and many users do not fully benefit from its potential.
Most people have access to Internet services but many do not actually use them. The spread of 3G and 4G networks across the world make the Internet increasingly available to more and more people. In 2016, mobile-broadband networks covered 84% of the world’s population, yet with 47.1% Internet user penetration, the number of Internet users remain well below the number of people with network access. While infrastructure deployment is crucial, high prices and other barriers remain important challenges to getting more people to enter the digital world.
Most people who do not own or use a mobile phone are among the youngest (5-14 years old) and those more than 74 years old segments of the population. Usage and ownership penetration rates amongst these age groups are much lower than amongst the rest of the population. Among the 15-74 age group, 85% or more of the population owns or uses a mobile phone in the countries where data are available. But this is changing.
Fixed-broadband prices continued to drop significantly in 2015 but remain high – and clearly unaffordable – in a number of LDCs. Globally, the price of a basic fixed-broadband connection has fallen from around USD 80 per month in 2008, to USD 25 in 2015, corresponding to a drop in the ratio of price to average GNI p.c. from over 90% to 14%. In LDCs, a fixed-broadband plan with a minimum of 1GB of data per month still corresponds to over 60% of GNI per capita.
Mobile-broadband is cheaper and more widely available than fixed-broadband, but still not deployed in the majority of LDCs. Globally, handset-based mobile-broadband prices have fallen from an average of PPP$ 29 per month in 2013 to PPP$ 18 in 2015. Mobile-broadband services are only offered in 38% of the LDCs; however, in those countries where the service is offered, handset-based prices have more than halved in PPP terms during the period 2012-2015 and prices now account for 11% of GNI per capita. Still, mobile-broadband cannot always replace fixed-broadband Internet access, especially the business sector and a growing number of applications require higher speeds and better connection quality.
Europe continues to lead the way in ICT development. It had the highest average IDI value among world regions (7.35). Countries in Europe generally have liberalized communications markets with high levels of ICT access, use and skills.
A number of countries in the Americas significantly improved their performance in the IDI. Several countries in Latin America, notably Bolivia and Mexico, also made noticeable progress in their IDI performance. Similar to other regions, the growth of mobile-broadband subscriptions was particularly influential on these outcomes.