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The U.S. 24th in household broadband penetration

Staff writer |
UN Broadband Commission released latest data on state of broadband access worldwide. Mobile broadband is the fastest growing technology in human history, according to the 2013 edition of the State of Broadband report.

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Released in New York at the 8th meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, the report reveals that mobile broadband subscriptions, which allow users to access the web via smartphones, tablets and WiFi-connected laptops, are growing at a rate of 30% per year. By the end of 2013 there will be more than three times as many mobile broadband connections as there are conventional fixed broadband subscriptions.

The State of Broadband is a unique global snapshot of broadband network access and affordability, with country-by country data measuring broadband access against the four key targets set by the 60 members of the Broadband Commission in 2011.

The Republic of Korea continues to have the world's highest household broadband penetration at over 97%. Switzerland leads the world in fixed broadband subscriptions per capita, at over 40%. By comparison, the U.S. ranks 24th in terms of household broadband penetration, and 20th in the world for fixed broadband subscriptions per capita, just behind Finland and ahead of Japan.

In terms of Internet use, there are now more than 70 countries where over 50% of the population is online. The top ten countries for Internet use are all located in Europe, with the exception of New Zealand (8th) and Qatar (10th).

"The global roll-out of broadband carries vast potential to enhance learning opportunities, to facilitate the exchange of information, and to increase access to content that is linguistically and culturally diverse," said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, who serves as co-Vice Chair of the Commission with ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Toure.

For the first time, the State of Broadband report also tracks a new target mandating "gender equality in broadband access by the year 2020", which was set by the Commission at its March meeting in Mexico City. ITU figures confirm that, worldwide, women are less likely to have access to technology than their male counterparts. While the gap is relatively small in the developed world, it widens enormously as average income levels fall.