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.
Europe is the most advanced region with a DOI score of 0.55, considerably higher than the world average (0.37), followed by the Americas (0.4). DOI scores show that basic telecom access and affordability are the main areas of achievement for most countries.
European countries, which are mostly developed economies, provide good digital opportunity for most of their inhabitants, with extensive infrastructure, generally low prices and widespread use of new technologies. Poorer European countries generally have medium DOI scores (e.g. Albania, Belarus, Turkey and Ukraine). Poland and Russia are among the top 15 gainers in the DOI worldwide over the period 2000-2005, making significant progress in ICT infrastructure.
The economies from the region are also leveraging their investments in infrastructure well in order to widely introduce new technologies and yield more advanced forms of usage. One interesting aspect of mobile Internet usage is the wide variation in access among countries of similar economic or geographic circumstances. Almost a third of Slovenian households and one fifth of Finnish households use mobile phones to access the Internet, while in other countries, less than five per pent of households use mobile phones to access the Internet.
Despite the favourable global picture, disparities in connectivity within the region persist and many are concerned about the European digital divide, which is likely to result from the sometimes modest convergence between the economies.
For more analysis on this and other related to digital opportunity issues, please consult the World Information Society Report 2006.