ITU Current Affairs

India, China home to 39% of young Internet users: UN report

According to recently released report-ICT Facts and Figures 2017, India and China are home to 39% of the 830 million young people worldwide who use the Internet.

The report was released by International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialised agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

Key Highlights of Report

Great strides are being made in expanding Internet access through the increased availability of broadband networks. Digital connectivity plays a critical role in bettering lives, as it opens the door to unprecedented knowledge, financial and employment opportunities for billions of people worldwide 

There has been significant increase in broadband access and subscriptions, with China leading the way. Youths (15-24 years old) are at the forefront of Internet adoption.

Least Developed Countries (LDCs): Up to 35% of individuals in LDCs are using the Internet are aged 15-24, compared with 13% in developed countries and 23% globally. LDCs saw the highest growth-rate of mobile broadband subscriptions between 2012 and 2017. Despite this, the number of mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in LDCs is the lowest globally at 23%.

Fixed-broadband subscriptions: It has increased by 9% annually in the last five years with up to 330 million subscriptions added. There has been an increase in high-speed fixed broadband subscriptions parallel to the growth in the number of fibre connections. Most of these subscriptions were in developing countries accounting for 80 % of all fixed-broadband subscriptions.

Mobile broadband subscriptions: It has grown more than 20% annually in the last five years and is expected to reach 4.3 billion globally by the end of 2017.

Internet user gender gap: It has narrowed in most regions since 2013. The proportion of men using the Internet remains slightly higher than the proportion of women using the Internet in two-thirds of countries worldwide. In 2017, the global Internet penetration rate for men stands at 50.9% compared to 44.9% for women.

International Internet bandwidth: It grew by 32% between 2015 and 2016, with Africa registering an increase of 72% during this period, the highest of all regions.

Global telecommunication revenues: It declined by 4% from US $2.0 trillion in 2014 to $1.9 trillion in 2015. Developing countries, which are home to 83% of the global population, generate 39% of the world’s telecommunication revenues.

About International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

ITU is the UN specialised agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs). It has 193 countries as its members and also 800 private-sector entities and academic institutions. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

ITU is responsible for allocating global radio spectrum and satellite orbits. It also develops the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies to seamlessly interconnect. It also strives to improve access to ICTs among the underserved communities worldwide.

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India ranks 138 in 2016 ICT Development Index

India has been ranked 138th in the 2016 ICT Development Index out of a total of 175 countries. In 2015, India ranked 135th position.

The index was released as part of the annual Measuring the Information Society Report for 2016 of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

What is ICT Development Index (IDI)?

  • The ICT Development Index (IDI) rankings compare the state of ICT development across countries. It is published annually by the UN ITU.
  • The IDI is based on 11 ICT indicators, grouped in three sub-indices: access, use and skills.
  • It is standard tool that governments, operators, researchers, development agencies and others can use to measure the digital divide and compare ICT performance within and across countries.

Key Highlights of 2016 IDI

  • Top 5 Countries: South Korea (1st), Iceland (2nd), Denmark (3rd), Switzerland (4th) and United Kingdom (5th).
  • Bottom 5 Countries: Niger (175), Chad (174), Guinea-Bissau (173), South Sudan (172) and Burundi (171).
  • Region wise Facts: European and countries in Americas region have made significant progress in ICT development.
  • In the Asia Pacific region, India is ranked at 26 out of the 34 countries. 9 countries in region remained least concerned. Africa was named as the worst performing region.
  • India related facts: India’s score has improved from 2.50 (in 2015) to 2.69. In terms of sub-indices access, India ranks 139 in 2016 as against 140 in 2015; use sub index, India has moved up to 142 in 2016 from 143 in 2015; skills sub index, India ranked 122.
  • Broadband access in India has become cheaper compared to the year 2015, but the data caps are among the most highest and restrictive in the world.
  • In India over 40% of the population still does not own a mobile phone. There is also a significant gender gap in mobile phone access in India.
  • Besides, there is lack of mobile ownership seen in lower income category, and among those who are not educated. People in rural regions are more likely to not own a mobile phone.
  • Fixed line telephone subscriptions have gone down in India, and now only two people in a hundred have a landline.
  • However, mobile phone subscriptions, computers in households, amount of available bandwidth, and access to an internet connection have all seen increase in India.
  • The percentage of users on the internet has gone up from 21% in 2014 to 26% of the population in 2015.

Way forward

  • For improving the IDI, India needs to improve internet access to the underserved to reduce digital divide.
  • There is also a need to change the definition of the minimum broadband speed.
  • The FUP (fair usage policy) levels must be relaxed which are among the most restrictive in the world.
  • Efforts should be taken to promote the use of mobile phones in rural areas. Besides more efforts must be taken to increase access of mobile phones to more women.

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