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Mobile Internet Helps UK Rank 4th in Global ICT Development Index

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 (8:50 am) - Score 830

The United Kingdom has been described as one of the “most dynamic” and fastest rising country’s in the world after it placed 4th in the ITU’s latest annual 2015 ICT Development Index, which ranks 167 countries by their skills, use and adoption of Internet connectivity and computer technologies.

Once again the country with the highest ranking in 2015, as in 2010, is South Korea, with an overall IDI value of 8.93 (up from 8.64 in 2010) and that’s hardly surprising given their state built fibre optic network and strong technological focus.

Elsewhere 8 of the top 10 economies in the 2015 rankings are from Europe (Denmark, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Norway) and the difference in overall values between them is relatively small, with less than 0.5 points between the first and tenth positions in the rankings.

Apparently those in the top 10 are reflective of the “high level of ICT development that has been achieved in most developed countries and some high-income developing economies, where there are continued high levels of investment in ICT infrastructure and innovation, as well as high levels of adoption of new services by consumers.”

The United Kingdom did particularly well and has jumped from 10th place in 2010 to 4th place now, which has been largely attributed to a significant rise in active Mobile Broadband subscriptions (i.e. we scored 98.99 per 100 inhabitants). Other areas have also improved, albeit at a more gradual pace and one that is in keeping with other countries.


The report states (view it here) that the average value for the top ten countries in the Index increased over the period by 0.62 points, from 8.06 to 8.68, with the “sharpest rise in rankings” within the top ten having been achieved by the United Kingdom.

The result places us way ahead of other major European economies, such a Germany (14th), France (17th), Spain (26th) and the disappointingly low ranked Italy (38th). Even the United States (15th) couldn’t make it into the top 10, which seems rather unusual but is largely due to a slower rate of general improvement and a fall in the number of fixed telephone line subscriptions.

2015 itu ict development index top 30

Overall 46% of households globally now have Internet access at home, up from 44% last year and just 30% in 2010, but this changes when you split the figures between different stages of development. In the developed world, 81.3% of households now have home Internet access, compared to 34.1% in the developing world, and just 6.7% in the 48 Least Developed Countries (LDC).

The latest data also found that growth in Internet use has slowed, posting 6.9% global growth in 2015, after 7.4% growth in 2014. However the number of Internet users in developing countries has still managed to nearly double in the past five years, with two thirds of all people online now living in the developing world.

Interestingly the fastest growth continues to be seen in Mobile Broadband, with related subscriptions worldwide having grown from 0.8 billion in 2010 to an estimated 3.5 billion in 2015. The number of fixed-broadband subscriptions has risen much more slowly, to an estimated 0.8 billion today. This is unsurprising because many developing countries lack the fixed line infrastructure of developed nations and have instead chosen to focus more on cheaper mobile networks.

In keep with this 95% of the global population is now covered by mobile-cellular services, although approximately 350 million people worldwide still live in places which are out of reach of a mobile network (down from 450 million last year). Similarly 89% of the world’s urban population is now covered by a 3G network, but only 29% of the world’s 3.4 billion people living in rural areas benefit from 3G coverage.

The cost of getting online is also falling and by early 2015 some 111 countries, including all of the world’s developed countries and 67 developing nations, had achieved the UN Broadband Commission’s target that the cost of broadband services should be no more than 5% of average monthly income. Sadly the report also notes that the falling cost of mobile broadband has been countered somewhat by an increase in fixed line broadband prices.

Mind you it’s worth pointing out that the UN’s original Internet and broadband goals for 2015 have otherwise struggled to meet their targets (here), although that hasn’t stopped the ITU Member States from setting new targets for 2020 and we’ll summarise those below. It remains to be seen whether any of these will be met, although some of them are notably more pragmatic than the overly optimistic 2015 goals.

On the other hand the aspiration for 90% of the rural population to be covered by broadband services in time for 2020 seems highly unlikely to be achieved. As ever with the United Nations, it’s easier to create goals than it is to focus on actually delivering them.

Target 1.1: Worldwide, 55% of households should have access to the Internet by 2020
Target 1.2: Worldwide, 60% of individuals should be using the Internet by 2020
Target 1.3: Worldwide, telecommunication/ICT should be 40% more affordable by 2020

Target 2.1.A: In the developing world, 50% of households should have access to the Internet by 2020
Target 2.1.B: In the least developed countries (LDCs), 15% of households should have access to the Internet by 2020
Target 2.2.A: In the developing world, 50% of individuals should be using the Internet by 2020
Target 2.2.B: In the least developed countries (LDCs), 20% of individuals should be using the Internet by 2020
Target 2.3.A: The affordability gap between developed and developing countries should be reduced by 40% by 2020
Target 2.3.B: Broadband services should cost no more than 5% of average monthly income in developing countries by 2020
Target 2.4: Worldwide, 90% of the rural population should be covered by broadband services by 2020
Target 2.5.A: Gender equality among Internet users should be reached by 2020
Target 2.5.B: Enabling environments ensuring accessible telecommunication/ICT for persons with disabilities should be established in all countries by 2020

Target 3.1: Cybersecurity readiness should be improved by 40% by 2020
Target 3.2: Volume of redundant e-waste to be reduced by 50% by 2020
Target 3.3: Green House Gas emissions generated by the telecommunication/ICT sector to be decreased per device by 30% by 2020

Innovative and Partnership
Target 4.1: Telecommunication/ICT environment conducive to innovation
Target 4.2: Effective partnerships of stakeholders in telecommunication/ICT environment

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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