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New ITU report shows global uptake of ICTs increasing, prices falling

  • Sweden tops ICT ranking for the second year in a row
  • Broadband prices drop 42 per cent from 2008-2009
  • Demand strongest in developing countries

Geneva, 23 February 2010 — Prices for information and communication technology (ICT) services are falling worldwide, yet broadband Internet remains outside the reach of many in poor countries, ITU says in its Measuring the Information Society 2010 report released today.

The report features the latest ICT Development Index (IDI), which ranks 159 countries according to their ICT level and compares 2007 and 2008 scores. "The report confirms that despite the recent economic downturn, the use of ICT services has continued to grow worldwide," says Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT). All 159 countries included in the IDI have improved their ICT levels, and mobile cellular technology continues to be a key driver of growth. In 2010, ITU expects the global number of mobile cellular subscriptions to top five billion. "At the same time, the report finds that the price of telecommunication services is falling — a most encouraging development," said Mr Al Basheer.

The IDI combines 11 indicators into a single measure that can be used as a benchmarking tool globally, regionally, and at national level, as well as helping track progress over time. It measures ICT access, use and skills, and includes such indicators as households with a computer, the number of fixed broadband Internet subscribers, and literacy rates.

The world’s Top 10 most advanced ICT economies features eight countries from Northern Europe, with Sweden topping the IDI for the second year in a row. The Republic of Korea and Japan rank third and eighth, respectively.


Figure 1: Source: ITU

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain top the list of Arab States, with Russia and Belarus leading ICT development in the CIS. In Africa, only the Seychelles, Mauritius and South Africa are included in the top 100. Given the close relationship between ICT uptake and national income, most poor countries rank at the low end of the IDI. In particular, the Least Developed Countries – many of which are in Africa — still have very limited access to ICTs, especially in terms of broadband infrastructure and household access to ICTs.


Figure 2: Source: ITU

Mobile still king

Mobile cellular technology continues to be the main driver of ICT growth, especially in the developing world, where average mobile penetration surpassed the 50 per cent mark in 2009. Today, over 70 economies worldwide have surpassed the 100 per cent penetration mark, with developed countries averaging 113 per cent by the end of last year.

While high-speed Internet access is now available in almost all countries, fixed broadband penetration in the developing world remains as low as 3.5 per cent, compared to 23 per cent in developed countries.

Prices are falling but broadband remains outside the reach of many

The report shows that globally the price of telecommunication and Internet services is falling. The 2009 ICT Price Basket, which includes 161 countries, combines the average cost of fixed telephone, mobile cellular, and Internet broadband services. Fixed broadband services showed the largest price fall (42 per cent), compared to 25 and 20 per cent in mobile cellular and fixed telephone services, respectively.

Despite this significant drop, ICT services, especially fixed broadband access, remain out of the reach of many people. In 2009, the ICT Price Basket corresponded on average to 13 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, ranging from 1.5 per cent in developed countries to 17.5 per cent in developing countries. In other words, countries with high income levels pay relatively little for ICT services, while countries with low income levels pay relatively more. For example, an entry-level broadband connection costs on average as much as 167 per cent of GNI in developing countries, compared to only two per cent in developed countries. Economies with the lowest price of ICT services relative to income include Macao (China), Hong Kong (China), Singapore, Luxembourg, Denmark and the UK.


Figure 3: Source: ITU


Figure 4: Source: ITU

Within the UN system, ITU is the main source of internationally comparable data and statistics on ICT. The Market Information and Statistics Division of the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) collects, harmonizes and disseminates more than 100 telecommunication and ICT indicators from over 200 economies worldwide. Data are accessible online through the ICT Eye portal, on CD and in print publications. The Market Information and Statistics Division regularly publishes analytical reports illustrating the latest trends in the sector.

An Executive Summary of the report can be found at:

High resolution photos can be found at:

Journalists wishing to receive a free copy of the full report in PDF format should contact the ITU Press Office at


For more information, please contact:

Sarah Parkes
Media Relations and Public Information, ITU
Tel:+41 22 730 6135
Mobile:+41 79 599 1439
Susan Teltscher
Head, Market Information and Statistics Division, ITU
Tel:+41 22 730 5937
Mobile: +41 79 5991409

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Updated : 2010-02-23