questions about the DOI
What is the DOI?
Digital Opportunity Index (DOI) is a composite index that measures
“digital opportunity”, or the possibility for the citizens of a
particular country to benefit from access to information that is
“universal, ubiquitous, equitable and affordable” (WSIS Tunis
Commitment, para 10). As such, it is a measure of each countries’
performance and prospects for progress in building an Information
index is a variable that can be used to measure (and analyze) changes in
quantities that may not otherwise be readily measurable (Taylor, 1921).
Indexes are widely used in everyday life; for example, to track the
level of stock markets, to monitor changes in price levels and to index
or link pension payments to the cost of living. In economics, indexes
are used to disaggregate complex trends (e.g. changes in the value of
exports) into their component trends (e.g. a rise in export volumes
resulting in an overall increase in the value of exports, despite a
reduction in unit price). Composite indexes are especially useful for
measuring complex concepts comprising different aspects; for example,
the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index (HDI)
measures each countries’ average achievements in three basic aspects of
human development: longevity, knowledge and a decent standard of living.
Building on the experience gained from its previous work, and in direct
response to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)
(Paragraph 28 of the Geneva Plan of Action calls for realistic
international performance evaluation and benchmarking (both qualitative
and quantitative), while the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society),
ITU in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Communications
of the Republic of Korea created the DOI to measure digital opportunity
for 180 economies for 2003/2004. This seeks to measure and monitor
countries’ digital opportunity and take-up of using Information and
Communication Technologies (ICTs) over time, in a joint process where
governments and policy-makers take the lead in contributing and
calculating the DOI for their countries. The aim is to encourage and
directly involve governments and other stakeholders in the monitoring of
WSIS implementation and follow-up.
Why did the ITU and Ministry of Information and
Communications of the Republic of Korea create the DOI?
need for a composite index, such as the Digital Opportunity Index,
arises for a number of reasons.
recognition that there are many possible routes towards building the
Information Society and that those countries that are newly
embarking on the path may chose a different route from those that
started out during an earlier period. For this reason, a composite
index that, for instance, measures both fixed and mobile networks,
or shows high-speed access as a percentage of total access, may be
more effective than an approach based on individual indicators.
realisation that it is better to compare countries at different
levels of development to their peers. The DOI permits a ranking of
countries, so that performance can be measured over time among
economies with a similar status in development of ICTs.
need expressed in the WSIS texts for tools to monitor and measure
progress in bridging the digital divide.
specific proposal to create the DOI arose out of the ongoing body of
work undertaken by ITU and the Ministry of Information and
Communications (MIC) of the Republic of Korea under its “Building
Digital Bridges”programme, which began in June 2004. More specifically,
ITU MIC Korea have followed a step-by-step process of multi-stakeholder
need for a composite index was identified at a seminar in Busan,
Consultations on the index concept continued at the WSIS Thematic
Meeting on Measuring the Information Society in Geneva, February
“strawman” methodological document, based on an application of the
DOI to 40 leading economies, was presented at the WSIS Thematic
Meeting on Multi-stakeholder Partnerships for Bridging the Digital
Divide, in Seoul, June 2005, and through online comments;
modified Index was formally launched during the Tunis Phase of the
WSIS, November 2005;
Index has been subsequently extended to some 176 economies and
updated for 2004 data, based on a new MoU between ITU and MIC Korea
to create a “digital opportunity platform”. The platform is open to
all WSIS stakeholders.
How does the DOI measure digital opportunity in
the Information Society?
Composite indexes are useful in measuring complex concepts such as
digital opportunity and human development as they can be used to measure
different aspects and combine these measurements together in an
measures digital opportunity in three categories of Opportunity,
Infrastructure and Usage (Figure 1). Indicators in various data series
are standardized on a scale of 0 to 1, by indexing relative to a
reference value (data series and reference values are given in Table 1
below). These index scores on the sub-indexes are then averaged by
simple average to give the overall DOI score for a country, between zero
and 1 (no country has achieved the upper or lower limit scores). The DOI
consists of the sub-indexes and data series shown in Table 1:
Figure 1: Structure of the Digital Opportunity Index
Table 1: Sub-indexes and reference values
are several key points about this methodology. The DOI uses household
penetration rates, as these are more appropriate for developing
countries (see what are its main advantages?).
Secondly, the DOI has a fixed/mobile distinction which permits to derive
separate indices for mobile or fixed infrastructure alone or combined
(Figure 2). This means that the DOI can be used to track the
transformation of the telecommunications industry and compare a
country’s take-up and compare performance in mobile technologies,
relative to fixed line telecommunications (see What can it be used
Figure 2: The fixed and mobile disaggregation within the DOI
Furthermore, the DOI is particularly innovative in its focus on new
technologies such as broadband (fixed and mobile) and mobile Internet.
This means that, for some countries, these data are currently zero (broadband
or 3G mobile not yet launched) or the data are unavailable. However, it
also means that this Index will remain relevant for some time to come,
unlike other e-indexes, which have become outdated through the rapid
evolution of technology.
Published information on the
website will include:
World Information Society Report 2006, presenting informed analysis
of trends in digital opportunity for 180 economies around the world
and discussion of its policy impact, to be published in June 2006.
statistical tables of indicators, from which the DOI was compiled.
Tables compiling and calculating the DOI and its component
sub-indexes for all 180 economies for which data are available.
online questionnaire and interactive spreadsheet which can be filled
in by respondents, to calculate the DOI for their own country, on
the basis of their data estimates.
What are its main advantages?
is specifically designed to analyze the performance of developing
countries, whilst comparing as wide a range of countries as possible
using the same standards:
Digital Opportunity Index aims to include all economies for which
data are available, with a specific focus on developing countries.
DOI index values are available for 180 economies to date, more than
any other e-index of which we are aware.
Digital Opportunity Index uses household penetration rates, as these
are a more accurate reflection of true access to ICTs in developing
countries than per capita penetration rates. The reason is that
developing countries often have larger family and household size,
which means that high rates of household penetration often translate
into relatively lower per capita penetration rates, effectively
weighted against developing countries.
DOI uses available data for more advanced technologies means that it
will remain relevant for some time to come, which is important given
the rapid evolution of ICTs.
Further, it is intended that the DOI should be developed within a
participatory process, involving governments, National Statistical
Offices and other stakeholders. It is hoped that Ministries and
governments will get involved and make a strong contribution.
What can it be used for?
is intended to be used to:
Track WSIS implementation and follow-up, in progress towards
building an Information Society based on the principles advocated by
the Geneva Declaration of Principles, and along the Lines of the
WSIS Plan of Action. Work on the DOI began in direct response to
the Geneva Plan of Action.
Inform policy-makers, the media and other stakeholders, capture
their attention and raise awareness of the issues key to improving
digital opportunities. The DOI emphasizes that it is the
opportunities offered by ICTs and what and how they are used for
that are important, rather than ICTs per se. Information
technologies are key enablers of economic and social development,
rather than an end goal in themselves.
Compare and analyze countries’ performance worldwide, within regions
or against each other, and track countries’ progress over time,
including the impact of specific policies such as competition and
DOI can be used to question national policy choices - striking
contrasts in DOI scores between countries of comparable income
levels should stimulate debate on government policies for ICT,
skills training and education, asking why one country has achieved
more from similar inputs, than another. The DOI gives greater
insight into the factors that are important in building the
Information Society, and how these affect each other. It should be
used to look behind trends in ICT take-up to seek underlying factors
can be used to track the transformation of the telecommunications
industry and compare and contrast a country’s take-up and compare
performance in mobile technologies, relative to fixed line
telecommunications. The DOI has a fixed/mobile distinction that
analyses indicators by either fixed or mobile technology (Figure 2),
so a country’s DOI score can be split into a mobile DOI and fixed
DOI. Developing countries can be analyzed in terms of the mobile
technologies where they are often stronger, rather than being
dragged down by lower fixed line infrastructure.
DOI will be used to build a global information resource in the DOI
database, which will be publicly available on the DOI website. This
is intended to enrich existing data sources, raise awareness, seek
new data sources and encourage countries and policy-makers to
contribute to the DOI. Its modular structure means that it can also
be used in conjunction with other indices (such as UNDP’s Human
Development Index) to examine the relationship of ICTs with income
levels, literacy rates and standard of living.
What should it not be used for?
is not intended and should not be used to make glib or facile
comparisons between countries on the basis of uninformed or shallow
analysis. It should not be used to make headline-grabbing quotes without
supporting evidence, or denigrate individual countries by comparison
with their counterparts.
How does the DOI measure the digital divide?
digital divide is a concept that can be applied in different ways. The
digital divide has been defined as “disparities… in access to and use of
information and communications technology (ICT) between countries (the
"international digital divide") and between groups within countries (the
"domestic digital divide") (Bridges.org’s authoritative survey of the
digital divide, “Spanning
the Digital Divide: Understanding and Tackling the Issues” (2001).
The DOI can be used to evaluate differences in digital opportunity for
both of these - between countries to make an assessment of the
international digital divide, or within countries, between provinces or
states, by gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic grouping to make an
assessment of disparities in access, according to background. Examples
include differences in availability of infrastructure or advanced
technologies by area or region, or urban/rural differences in income and
hence in the affordability of ICTs (as a proportion of income).
Highlighting internal disparities along these lines can raise national
debate in many countries and promote action to address inequality.
What are the sub-indexes, and what are they used for?
sub-indexes measure specific aspects of the DOI and can be used to
monitor the relationships between infrastructure, opportunity and usage:
for example, to determine if investment of infrastructure is being
adequately matched by growth in demand for and usage of ICTs.
Opportunity Index measures potential access to communications, in terms
of population coverage by mobile networks and tariff data. In order to
participate in the Information Society, consumers must have
accessibility to ICT service and must be able to afford it. The
Infrastructure Index measures more straightforward access to ICTs in
network indicators and household penetration rates. The Usage Index
assesses the take-up and usage of more advanced broadband technologies
(in the percentage of mobile and fixed broadband users) to see whether
the opportunity to use ICTs and the availability of infrastructure is
feeding through into usage of ICTs by the population.
classification is sequential, with each category is dependent on the
previous (Figure 1). In order to have access to infrastructure, users
must have the opportunity to be covered by the service and able to
afford it. Usage depends on having infrastructure and a device. This
progression is in fact reflected in the DOI results, where the
Opportunity Index is consistently higher than the Infrastructure Index,
which in turn is higher than the actual Usage Index.
the data in the DOI
Where do the data for the DOI come from, and what can they be used for?
data in the DOI come from a variety of sources. Data are drawn mainly
from the ITU’s World Telecommunication Indicators database, drawn from
answers and contributions supplied by National Statistical Offices and
government Ministries in response to the official questionnaire sent to
ITU Member States every year. This is supplemented by primary research
on tariffs, for Internet access and mobile communications. Where data
are not readily available from national government, efforts have been
made to supplement data from national sources, operators’ published
statistics and industry press. In a few cases, where occasional years
were missing in a defined trend series, it has been necessary to
interpolate and/or estimate data from knowledge of the industry
circumstances. Sources for all data used in the DOI indicator tables and
DOI calculations will be cited briefly after each table.
How can I update or correct information in the DOI?
information in the DOI will be published online and can be updated in
several ways. It can be updated online, using the
interactive spreadsheet online (due to be published shortly).
However, official submissions will only be accepted after verification
from official government Ministries. Revisions to data should be
supported by accompanying evidence.
is happy to hear your comments and welcomes all feedback as an essential
means of improving the quality of our work. All views and comments can
by email and we will do our best
to take them into account in future revisions of the DOI.
Why is there a time lag between the reference date of the DOI and the
release date of the analysis of the DOI in the World Information Society
effort has been made and we strive to present the most up-to-date data
possible. Due to the time needed to collect, compile and publish
relevant and internationally comparable data series, it is inevitable
that a time lag creeps into publication. The time lag between the
reference date of the DOI (2003/2004) and the publication of the World
Information Society Report 2006 is eighteen months, which compares
favourably to the time lags involved in the UNDP’s Human Development
Report and UNIDO’s Competitive Industrial Performance Index.
Why is the DOI not compiled for all countries?
has been compiled for 180 economies for which adequate data were
available for 2003/2004. The DOI has also been calculated for around 40
economies for the years back to 2000. Lack of data has prevented a
historical Digital Opportunity Index being calculated for more countries
or more years. In some cases, where there is a missing intermediate
value in a trend line, data has been interpolated. The data series with
the lowest data availability was mobile coverage of the population,
which was an important, but limiting, data series in measuring the
access of the population to mobile services. The proxy variable of
proportion urban population was used in place of this variable to ensure
that good country coverage was achieved and that the DOI was calculated
for as many economies as possible. For some other economies, data has
been estimated on the basis of other data sources and industry press.
Is the DOI comparable over time?
values are comparable over time, when they are calculated using the same
methodology and comparable trend data. Every effort has been made to
ensure that data are comparable and consistent. Lack of comparable data
is in fact what limits the set of countries for which the DOI has been
calculated to around 40 in 2000.
continue to evolve rapidly, and this has implications for the DOI data.
Mobile handsets are constantly being upgraded, while the technology is
fast replaced, with rapid obsolescence. In terms of Internet access,
broadband ‘always-on’ technologies are fast catching up with dial-up in
industrialized economies. The DOi has deliberately adopted a
‘futuristic focus’ incorporating new and recent technologies (such as
broadband and mobile Internet subscribers) in order to ensure that it
remains relevant and comparable for some time to come.
How will the DOI be improved over time?
fast-changing field of ICTs, future developments are difficult to
predict. However, the DOI has already undergone several revisions and
refinements to improve the methodology. It was discussed extensively at
Thematic Meeting in Seoul, Korea in June 2005.
response to changes in technology, data series will continue to adapt
and evolve, either within the data series or by replacement with a new
data series. As one example, the Internet access tariffs included in
the DOI mostly referred to prices of residential dial-up Internet access
as the cheapest way of accessing the Internet in most countries.
However, in OECD countries, dial-up is fast being replaced by broadband,
so this data series now mostly refers to broadband prices for these
countries, rather than dial-up. The DOI could be combined with other
indices – for example, the HDI to explore the relationship between human
development and digital opportunity more fully.
How can the DOI be adjusted for gender differences?
Paragraph 28a of the Geneva Plan of Action calls for performance
evaluation and benchmarking, including gender analysis. The DOI can be
used to assess and monitor differences in access to ICTs by gender.
Household and tariff data cannot be disaggregated by gender (it is
assumed that all members of the household can access the telephone,
whether male or female, and tariffs are the same for all). However,
studies in some countries have shown different levels of access for male
and female Internet users and mobile phone users. The DOI can be
compared for different groups within society to take into account and
evaluate differences in access.
Are there any sub-national indexes available?
Similarly, the DOI can be calculated for regions, towns and provinces
within a country, nation or state, to assess different levels of access
within an economy. Measurements of the DOI within a country can be used
to track the domestic digital divide or urban/rural disparities in
access – not just in levels of access (where it is usually assumed that
urban access will always be greater than rural access), but in types of
access, with mobile or satellite technologies often used for more remote
rural areas, in preference to fixed line infrastructure. The fixed/mobile
split within the DOI means that the DOI can be readily used to assess
differences in the type of access (Figure 2).
Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity has launched a promising project to
trial the use of the DOI to measure digital opportunity and access to
ICTs across the Republic of Korea.
Looking to the
Future – Implications of the DOI
How can the DOI help developing countries, and how can the DOI help
can help developing countries by informing and improving policy
choices. It can be used to evaluate WSIS implementation and follow-up
and to assess countries’ progress in building an Information Society.
Given highly unequal levels of income and access to ICTs in some
countries (for example, the high levels of income inequality observed by
many studies in Latin America – (see Deininger, Klaus, and
Squire, Lynn, “New ways of looking at old issues: inequality and growth”
(1996), World Bank, Washington),
it is vital to make some assessment of differences in access to ICTs
both between countries and within countries, in order to direct
resources where they are most needed.
Countries’ policies and performance can be compared to determine which
policies were more successful, and why others may not have worked so
well. Analysis of the impact of policies can help policy-makers
understand the consequences of their decisions, and modify and refine
some policies to ensure that under-served areas and social groups are
included and also benefit.
When will the next update be available?
planned to update the Digital Opportunity Index annually, to monitor
countries’ progress towards an Information Society.