World Information Society Report 2007: Beyond WSIS

The International Telecommunication Union has released the World Information Society Report 2007: Beyond WSIS.

Here's an excerpt from the "Executive Summary":

Developing countries (most notably, India and China) are gaining on OECD countries in terms of fixed line penetration, mobile cellular subscriber penetration, Internet usage and broadband penetration. Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are also catching up with developing countries in terms of mobile phones, Internet usage and broadband. However, LDCs are actually being left behind in fixed lines, where there is a widening gap between developing countries and LDCs. This may later have a negative impact on the take-up of broadband in LDCs. . . .

The digital divide is also narrowing in terms of Internet usage. In 1997, the nearly three-quarters of the world’s population living in low-income and lower-middle income economies accounted for just 5 per cent of the world’s Internet users (see Figure 2). By 2005, they accounted for just over 30 per cent of all Internet users. . . .

In terms of broadband subscribers, high-income economies account for nearly three-quarters of total broadband subscribers worldwide (see Figure 1). Lower-middle income economies accounted for 20 per cent (with China alone accounting for 87 per cent of these or some 15 per cent of the global total). Low-income countries accounted for less than 1 per cent of total global broadband subscribers, with India and Vietnam accounting for virtually all of these.

2005 and 2006 were a period of startling growth in Internet in many countries, thanks to the boost from broadband. The United States remains the largest Internet market in terms of the number of Internet subscribers, but China is gaining fast and, if current growth rates continue, China could overtake the United States in terms of total Internet subscribers within two years. . . .

In developed countries, growth rates in Internet subscriptions tend to be lower, but many subscribers are exchanging their narrowband dial-up connection for a higher speed broadband connection. One example is the substitution of broadband for dial-up in the United Kingdom (see Figure 4). In the United States, some 60 per cent of all Internet connections are now broadband, while in Japan and Spain, efforts by operators to encourage consumers towards broadband have resulted in three-quarters of Internet subscribers now using broadband. In the Republic of Korea and Canada, virtually all Internet subscribers already enjoy broadband access to faster, advanced services such as video, teleconferencing, multi-player gaming and triple play.

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