The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has published its annual State of Broadband Report 2013, which found that superfast fibre optic (FTTH) and hybrid fibre (FTTC) style services were continuing to cannibalise copper (ADSL) connections and that the UK had improved to be ranked 10th in the world for fixed line broadband penetration (up from 12th).
The State of Broadband 2013 (PDF) study is the second edition of the ITU’s annual report, which features a country-by-country rankings based on access and affordability for over 160 economies worldwide. The primary purpose of the report is to help gauge what progress the world is making towards the United Nation’s (UN) top four global broadband development targets.
1. Making broadband policy universal.
* By 2015, all countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access / Service Definitions.
2. Making broadband affordable.
* By 2015, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces (i.e. amounting to less than 5% of average monthly income).
3. Connecting homes to broadband.
* By 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access.
4. Getting people online.
* By 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
The good news is that by mid-2013, some 134 or 69.4% of all countries had a national plan, strategy, or policy in place to promote broadband (up from 133 in 2012), and a further 12 countries or 6% were planning to introduce such measures in the near future. But that still leaves 47 countries (24.4%) without any kind of plan for broadband.
Meanwhile there are now more than 70 countries where over 50% of the population is online and eight of the top ten countries for Internet use are all located in Europe. Total Internet users should reach 2.75 billion in 2013 and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) continues to have the world’s highest household broadband penetration at over 97%.
Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General, said:
“The new analysis in this year’s report shows progress in broadband availability, but we must not lose sight of those who are being left behind. While more and more people are coming online, over 90% of people in the world’s 49 Least Developed Countries remain totally unconnected.”
The report also shows that the latest superfast fibre optic (FTTH) and hybrid fibre based broadband technologies are slowly cannibalising older copper (ADSL) style Internet connections, while cable services (e.g. Virgin Media) have continued to remain fairly unchanged.
At the end of last year the ITU reported that 55.47% of all broadband connections were made using copper line (ADSL) technologies, while 19.34% were now on hybrid fibre (FTTC/X) services, 19.16% were still on cable platforms, just 2.69% had a truly ultrafast fibre optic (FTTH) service, 1.86% were using wireless, 0.32% had a Satellite link and 1.16% had adopted some other form of connectivity.
Meanwhile the United Kingdom improved its position for fixed broadband penetration (per 100 inhabitants) from a score of 32.7 (rank 12th) at the end of 2011 to 34.0 (rank 10th) at the end of 2012. Similarly our score for Mobile Broadband penetration also increased from 62.3 (rank 9th) at the end of 2011 to 72.0 at the end of 2012, although others had improved at a faster pace and thus our actual ranking fell to 14th.
Overall the United Kingdom also had 87% of people using the Internet, which ranked us as 12th in the world overall. By comparison Iceland topped the chart with a massive score of 96%.
The report also estimates that there are currently 200 million fewer women online than men (i.e. 1.3 billion women vs 1.5 billion men) and warns that the gap could grow to 350 million within the next three years if action is not taken. Women were also on average 21% less likely to own a mobile phone.
Research highlighted in the report also claims that, in developing countries, every 10% increase in access to broadband translates to a 1.38% growth in a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As a result it suggests that bringing an additional 600 million women and girls online could boost global GDP by as much as US$18 billion. As usual, take any GDP boost claims with a pinch of salt.