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 Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Geneva, 2 March 2009 — ITU’s new ICT Development Index (IDI) compares developments in information and communication technologies (ICT) in 154 countries over a five-year period from 2002 to 2007.

The Index combines 11 indicators into a single measure that can be used as a benchmarking tool globally, regionally and at the country level. These are related to ICT access, use and skills, such as households with a computer the number of Internet users; and literacy levels.

The most advanced countries in ICT are from Northern Europe. The exception is the Republic of Korea. Sweden tops the new ITU ICT Development Index, followed by the Republic of Korea, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland and Norway. They are followed by other, mainly high-income countries from Europe, Asia and North America. Western and Northern Europe and North America are the regions with the highest IDI scores, and most countries from these regions are among the top twenty ICT economies. Poor countries, in particular the least developed countries, remain at the lower end of the index with limited access to ICT infrastructure, including fixed and mobile telephony, Internet and broadband.

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Cost of ICTs lowest in Singapore and the United States

The cost of making a phone call or surfing the Internet can influence the use of these technologies. The Report presents a new tool — the ITU ICT Price Basket — that measures and compares ICT prices across countries. It combines the average cost of fixed telephone, mobile cellular, and Internet broadband and compares 2008 ICT tariffs in 150 countries. It ranks countries based on the relative price of the ICT services and thus measures and compares the affordability of services.

In 2008, ICT prices corresponded on average to 15 per cent of countries’ average GNI per capita, ranging from 1.6 per cent in developed countries to 20 per cent in developing countries, with most countries in the 0−25 per cent range, and most developed countries in the 0-3 per cent range. In other words, significant differences exist among countries based on income levels. Countries with high income level pay relatively little for ICT services, while countries with low income levels pay relatively more. This is often due to very high tariffs for fixed Internet broadband in some developing countries.

Countries that rank at the very top of the ICT Price Basket include Singapore, the United States, Luxembourg, Denmark, Hong Kong (China), United Arab Emirates, Taiwan (China), Sweden, Norway and Finland. Given the income levels of those countries, they offer the most affordable ICT services globally, ranging between 0.4 and 0.6 per cent of monthly GNI per capita. In all of the top 25 countries, ICT services account for less than 1 per cent of monthly GNI. This compares to the bottom 25 countries, where the ICT Price Basket value ranges between 40 and 72 per cent of monthly GNI — which is a clear indicator that ICTs are unaffordable for the large majority of the people in those countries.

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Source: ITU.