Sunday, March 8, 2009

ITU: Three Times More Mobiles than Fixed Telephone Lines

"In these difficult times, reliable data become essential to monitor progress and to assess the impact of the crisis. In particular, the monitoring of the digital divide and whether it will increase as a result of the crisis becomes imperative," said Sami Al Basheer El Morshid, Director, BDT, ITU., speaking at the opening of the 7th ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators meeting last week in Cairo. The ITU acknowledges that it is not yet possible to foresee how the economic
downturn will affect ICT markets in general and in the developing world, in particular.

While network operators may see themselves confronted with limited capital and reluctant to follow through with costly
network investments (for example IMT-2000/3G, WiMAX or optical fiber networks), the need to keep and attract new customers, and increase market shares and revenues may also increase competition and bring down service prices. It might also encourage and force businesses to increase their attention to developing markets and low-income users, where much lower, yet highly dynamic penetration rates in the last years hint at greater market opportunities.

The ITU has also just published an ICT Development Index (IDI) that 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.

According to I.T.U. data, by the end of 2008, there were over three times more mobile cellular subscriptions than fixed telephone lines globally. Two thirds of those are now in the developing world compared with less than half in 2002. In contrast to the growth in the mobile sector, fixed telephony has experienced nearly no growth in the last decade. Indeed, fixed line global penetration has been stagnating at just under 20 percent.

As for the Internet, 23 out of 100 inhabitants globally used the Internet at the end of 2008. But Internet penetration levels in the developing countries remain low. By the end of 2007, over 60 percent of all Internet subscribers had a broadband connection. Dial-up is being replaced by fixed broadband across developed and developing countries, including Senegal,
Chile and Turkey, where broadband subscribers represent over 90 per cent of all Internet subscribers

The ITU is also launching a second publication called the ITU Manual for Measuring ICT Access and Use by Households and Individuals. This Manual has been prepared to support countries in their efforts to measure and monitor the developments towards becoming information societies. The Manual, which is based on the internationally agreed set of core ICT indicators, is a practical tool for countries to use in the ICT data collection and in preparing ICT household surveys.