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Digital Divide shows little sign of narrowing

ITU’s, Measuring the Information Society 2009 Report, reveals that despite unprecedented ICT levels worldwide the digital divide shows little sign of narrowing. While ICT access in developing countries is improving, ICT use, according to the report, is not gaining much ground with broadband internet prices remaining ‘clearly outside the reach of the majority of people in the developing world’. The report notes the disparity in the price of ICT services as a percentage of GNI per capita, with high income countries tending to have lower relative prices for ICT services, whereas low-income, developing economies tend to have higher prices.
There is an interesting exception to this statistic however: those countries with below average prices compared to their income levels often subsidize services (such as fixed telephony) provided by Government-owned operators, and have successfully attracted investment thus creating a competitive environment in the fixed broadband or mobile cellular market.The report highlights the significance of this connection for policy makers who must address the cost of ICT services if ICT levels are to rise. The implications of the report seem clear; the mobile phone may have revolutionized telecommunication in the developing world but it has not dented the digital divide, with fixed and mobile internet access beyond the reach of the majority of people. This report goes some way to providing policy makers with a useful tool to benchmark and assess their information society developments, as well as to monitor progress that has been made globally to close the digital divide.

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