The International Telecommunication Union - the United Nations’ agency for Information and Communication technologies - has published its latest figures showing how the uptake of ICT is growing around the world.
Its latest annual report ranks the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as the world’s most advanced ICT economy, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland. The UK is a new entry in the ICT top ten, moving up from last year’s 14th place to 9th place in 2012.
The fastest-growing ICT service is mobile broadband, which has seen 40% growth globally and 78% in developing countries. There are now twice as many mobile broadband subscriptions as fixed-broadband subscriptions worldwide.
When it comes to mobile technology overall, most growth is coming from developing countries. The ITU says mobile network subscriptions registered double-digit growth in developing countries, reaching a total of six billion mobile subscriptions worldwide by the end of 2011. China and India currently account for around one billion mobile subscriptions each.
Costs are falling, with the price of ICT services dropping by 30% between 2008 and 2011. The biggest decrease was in in fixed-line broadband services, where average prices came down by 75%. However, the ITU says fixed-broadband services are still too expensive in most developing countries, with a basic fixed-broadband package costing over 40% of a person’s monthly gross national income on average rather than the 1.7% seen in developed economies.
Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, said “The past year has seen continued and almost universal growth in ICT uptake. The surge in numbers of mobile-broadband subscriptions in developing countries has brought the Internet to a multitude of new users. But despite the downward trend, prices remain relatively high in many low-income countries. For mobile broadband to replicate the mobile-cellular miracle and bring more people from developing countries online, 3G network coverage has to be extended and prices have to go down even further.”
Global revenues from telecommunication services reached $1.5 trillion (£935 billion) in 2010, which was 2.4 % of the world’s Gross Domestic Product.
[Report: Measuring the Information Society 2012]