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 Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Digital Opportunity Index (DOI), which is one of the two indices officially endorsed by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) (Geneva 2003-Tunis 2005), can be used as a practical tool to track the changing dynamics driving the Information Society worldwide.

The map illustrates the strong lead taken by Asia, together with Europe and North America, in realizing digital opportunity. Two Asian countries top the world rankings the Republic of Korea and Japan, and the average DOI scores for the region are higher than the world average of 0.37. Central Asian countries are catching up fast with large infrastructural investments and strong gains in mobile and internet subscribers, including 3G mobile technologies (CDMA 2000 1x and W-CDMA). It is worth noting that five out of the top 15 gainers in the DOI come from the Asian region: these are India, China, Indonesia, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

The Asian Tigers, together with Scandinavian countries lead in internet subscriptions, with around a third of their population subscribing to the internet, but only half of these subscribed to broadband services. This is in contrast to the Republic of Korea, where virtually all internet users are broadband subscribers, with access to faster, advanced services such as video, teleconferencing, multiplayer gaming and triple play. These different profiles of internet usage could result in the development of more varied skill sets and contrasting rates of innovation and, over the longer term, may shape the Information Society differently, according to the type, speed and capacity of internet access available. However, there are often large differences in the level of development within the region - the Asia-Pacific region contains both high-income and Least Developed Countries. In many economies fixed line telephony has been challenged by the worldwide growth in mobile phones.

However, there remains a strong need for basic connectivity in Asia, where connectivity is the main factor driving the digital divide and limiting access to ICTs.

For more analysis on this and other related to digital opportunity issues, please consult the World Information Society Report 2006.